Residents attending a May 6 meeting in Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseaau on electoral boundaries go over some of the information that was provided to them.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
Three public meetings were held this past week and another is to be held this coming week as part of the consultation process for the review of the Municipality of Argyle’s electoral boundaries.
“Of the groups that we’ve had, we’ve had some great discussions, so we’re very pleased with that,” said Alain Muise, the municipality’s chief administrative officer.
Six members of the public turned out for a May 5 meeting in Pubnico, 14 for a May 6 session in Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau and eight for a May 7 meeting in Kemptville.
Another public session is scheduled for May 12 in Wedgeport.
The municipality is considering two options: maintaining nine districts or reducing the number to seven.
Based on what people had to say during the first three public sessions, residents have different views. Some, for example, have said they are staunchly against a reduction, while others are more prepared to move to seven districts.
Even among those in the latter group, however, concern has been expressed over some of the boundary lines that have been proposed.
There were “strong suggestions, I would say,” CAO Muise said, “around some of the boundaries and how they should be changed. So some people said ‘we don’t want seven, we want nine.’ And some people said ‘we’re okay with seven. We think you can do the job with seven, but we don’t like the boundaries.’”
At the meeting in SAR, for instance, some residents spoke out against the idea of splitting SAR and Lower Eel Brook – as proposed in the seven-district scenario under consideration – with one village going in one district, the other in another district.
Getting this type of feedback is important, Muise says, not only because it helps the municipality know where it still needs to make changes but also because it will assist the municipality when it has to make its case to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
“The draft proposed seven for the consideration of the public drew a line between SAR and Eel Brook and what we heard very loudly (from residents) is that that’s one community and there should not be a line there,” Muise said.
Community of interest is one of the factors to be taken into account when reviewing electoral boundaries. Others include geographic size and population density.
At least one organization – the Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas – went on record last week as supporting nine districts and opposing the move to seven. Making a presentation at the meeting in Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau, CAPEB president Norbert LeBlanc said the current setup has worked well for the municipality’s Acadian population. He expressed concern about the potential negative impact on the Acadian community of going to seven districts.