Polling district changes likely in West Hants

Ashley Thompson
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The boundaries for polling districts in the Municipality of West Hants will likely require some adjustments with or without the addition of Hantsport.

Stantec Consulting’s John Heseltine discovered that five of the nine polling districts in West Hants have too few, or too many, voters to meet current guidelines set by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB).

The UARB wants to see the number of electors in each district within plus or minus 10 per cent of the average voting population of all of the districts of West Hants. 

Heseltine hosted the five meetings — one in Hantsport, two in Kings County, one in West Hants and one in Windsor — to collect feedback for an governance study pertaining to the proposed dissolution of the Town of Hantsport.

The series of meetings ended at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre in Windsor Aug. 26, with Heseltine’s final report due Sept. 2.

“The addition of Hantsport is not the key issue here. The fact is the current districts… were already considerably out of balance,” said Heseltine, addressing a crowdof about 30 people.

Hantsport, a town known to have 921 electors in 2012, is too small to be its own district. However, Heseltine’s projections suggest Hantsport’s voters would form a majority as residents of a district in West Hants.

Heseltine said significant moves are in order in West Hants to create a greater sense of voter parity within the districts.

“There’s a lot of changes,” he said.

He felt the eastern side of the municipality, for example, could be split into four — rather than five — districts. Hantsport, he added, would merge with Mount Denson.

Heseltine’s recommendations are subject to change until the report is due to be filed. The study he is completing deals specifically with finding a suitable governance structure for the Municipality of West Hants, or Kings County, if either municipal unit absorbs Hantsport.

Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley stressed that he feels it is counterproductive for the smaller county, Hants, to lose citizens to Kings.

“I think we’re just moving lines around and we’re not solving the problem in a bigger context than just Kings County or Hants County,” Beazley said.

Heseltine said it is within his mandate to recommend a reduction in the council size serving the municipalities he’s studying, but he doesn’t feel it is critical in Kings or West Hants.

Regardless of the results of the proposed dissolution, the Municipality of West Hants will be required to begin its own boundary review process in the coming months. 

Organizations: Municipality of West Hants, UARB, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: West Hants, Hantsport, Kings Windsor Mount Denson Hants County

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