Consultant: Hantsport voters would form majority in West Hants district

Ashley Thompson
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A consultant examining the best way to incorporate Hantsport into Kings County or the Municipality of West Hants from a governance standpoint is noting a clear difference between the two scenarios.

Stantec Consulting’s John Heseltine sees a fundamental difference in the voting power citizens of Hantsport will have if the town of roughly 921 electors is dissolved and they become residents of Kings or West Hants.

“Kings is quite a bit bigger and in the district into which Hantsport would be incorporated in Kings, the residents of Hantsport would be a clear minority,” said Heseltine, addressing a crowd of about 25 gathered at the Falmouth Hall Aug. 19 for a meeting about the governance study Stantec is conducting.

“In the case of West Hants, they would be a clear majority. They would clearly have a representative who may or may not be from Hantsport, but a representative who would be concerned primarily, I guess, with Hantsport as his or her district.”

Kings County has 11 council members serving 47,772 residents. West Hants has nine council members representing a population of 14,165 constituents.

Harold Bulger, Hantsport’s deputy mayor, expressed concern that citizens of Hantsport would still only have one representative, with one vote on a nine-member council, at the table in West Hants.

He added that Hantsport’s ratepayers will still be responsible for their own water and sewer services if dissolution occurs.

A draft boundary change proposal Heseltine shared at the Falmouth meeting shows a Hantsport-Mount Denson link in District 8. In Kings County, Hantsport would most likely to become part of District 12 (Hants Border-Lower Wolfville) if dissolution occurs.

Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley said adding Hantsport to Kings County would create greater disparity between the size of Kings and Hants counties.

“I think that is totally counter to what we should be trying to do as a province,” he said, noting that the proposed dissolution of the Town of Hantsport will only address a symptom of a larger problem.

He’d rather see the Hants West region come together as a whole to find a solution.

“I’d hate to see them go,” Beazley said.

Falmouth resident Tom Calkin concurred.

“As a citizen of this area I would love to have us part of a bigger community because I think we have to look for opportunities, not problems,” he said.

Heseltine said five of the nine polling districts in the Municipality of West Hants require boundary changes to meet guidelines set by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

He noted that districts 1 (Summerville-Kempt), 2 (Avondale-The Burlingtons), 3 (Brooklyn-Scotch Village) and 4 (St. Croix-Ellershouse-Newport) are on his radar as he works on completing the governance study.

Heseltine must consider the number of electors, relative parity of voting power, population density, geographic size and community of interest in making recommendations for boundary changes in polling districts.

Community of interest can trump relative parity of voting power in some cases.

“We want to see districts which represent communities that share common concerns and so on,” said Heseltine.

Heseltine is using feedback gathered at public meetings to come up with the final recommendations that will be presented in the governance study.

The last two meetings will be held in Kentville and Windsor next week — Aug. 25 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Municipal Complex in Kentville and Aug. 26 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre in Windsor.



Organizations: Municipality of West Hants, Stantec, Hants Border-Lower Wolfville Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board Avondale-The Burlingtons

Geographic location: Hantsport, Kings, Hants West Falmouth Kentville Windsor

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Recent comments

  • Get On With It
    August 22, 2014 - 12:48

    The town charter and the services it requires are a millstone around the neck of Hantsport residents - ask anyone who has tried to sell a house in town. Time to move on and get rid of town status - get on with it council you are doing the right thing!