Digby town council may survey residents on council size, based on Berwick model

Jonathan
Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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Digby town council held their regular monthly meeting at the Digby Firehall on MOnday, Feb. 3 so as to include a public presentation of the results of the organizational review.

Digby town council may use a survey created by the town of Berwick to find out what people here think about council size.

All municipal units in Nova Scotia have to review their electoral boundaries and number of councillors and report to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board before the end of this year.

[Related: Council to talk council size in June, April 2014]

That review should include some form of public consultation.

In the past Digby relied on public meetings which have been poorly attended.

For the upcoming review, Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland asked staff to look at the survey created by Berwick in May of this year.

Although nothing has been approved yet by council, they discussed options at their regular council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

They are considering mailing out a couple hundred surveys to randomly selected residents of the town, perhaps using the list of accounts with the water commission.

Ossinger said they may also allow other residents to pick up the survey at town hall as well.

And every one will be welcome to speak or make submissions at a public meeting, which will be scheduled for this fall.

The Berwick survey is four pages, the first two of which contain information about the review, the town, the municipal government structure, the make up and duties of council and the costs associated with council.

It also compares Berwick with eight other towns in Nova Scotia with similar populations.

Five of the towns have a mayor and four councillors; and four, including Digby, have a mayor and six councillors.

Windsor: 3,700 residents - 4 councillors

Pictou: 3,400 - 4

Port Hawkesbury: 3,400 - 4

Trenton: 2,500 – 4

Berwick: 2,401 – 6

Lunenburg: 2,300 – 6

Digby: 2,200 – 6

Middleton: 1,700 – 6

Shelburne: 1,700 - 4

The survey asks one question with three options:

Q: “The Town of Berwick currently has one mayor and six councillors. How many councillors do you believe we need?”

A: “I believe Berwick should have one mayor and more than six councillors/ one mayor and six councillors/ or one mayor and fewer than six councillors.”

The survey includes space for additional comments and allows residents who complete the survey to enter their name and phone number into a draw for Berwick t-shirts, hats, toques and coffee mugs.

The survey contains an additional page of questions for feedback on how well the town is governed.

Council has directed Ossinger to modify the Berwick survey for use here and he will be presenting that at the town’s committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.

jriley@digbycourier.ca

Organizations: Digby town council, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Port Hawkesbury

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