The political map of Kings County would likely be altered should Hantsport end up becoming a part of the rural municipality.
At a public meeting Aug. 18 at the Hants Border Community Centre, John Heseltine, consultant to the Hantsport Transition Committee, outlined what the political landscape might look like if Hantsport joined Kings.
Heseltine told the 60 or so in attendance that, as the meeting was in Kings County, the changes he presented were those that, if approved by the Utility and Review Board, would occur if Hantsport joined Kings.
“I’m looking at council arrangements if Hantsport should dissolve,” he said. “I have no opinion one way or the other.”
According to the most recent census figures, Hantsport has 921 electors aged 18 and over. If the town dissolves, it would add approximately 1,000 people to the population of the municipality it joins.
In order to fairly balance representation by population, districts are supposed to be within plus or minus 10 per cent of the median population per district.
Currently, Kings County’s 11 municipal districts range in number of voters from 2,807 in District 2 to 3,753 in District 9. Adopting a median population of 3,152, District 2 is 11.1 per cent below the median, and District 9 is 18.8 per cent above.
District 12, which Hantsport would become part of if it joined Kings County, has 3,279 voters - 120, or 3.8 per cent, above the median.
If Kings County were to absorb Hantsport’s 921 electors into District 12 without any other changes, its population would increase to 4,200, an unacceptable 29.5 per cent over the median population. Heseltine said population would need to be removed from District 12 in order to maintain the balance and satisfy the UARB requirements.
He presented a map showing changes in several Kings County districts to bring all districts as close to the median as possible. Current Polling District 12F, south of New Minas, with 769 residents, would, under the new configuration, become part of District 10.
The part of District 10 south of Highway 101, and included in the expanded area of New Minas, would become part of District 11. The Greenwich area would become part of District 2 with Port Williams.
With these and other, more minor alterations, “only one district (District 9) would end up being more than 10 per cent in variance.”
Heseltine suggested these changes would not have a huge impact on the ratio between urban and rural in Kings County.
While Hantsport’s representation would be “significant,” it still wouldn’t represent the majority in District 12. Other than the shift of District 12F, “nothing will change for the residents of District 12.”
Asked if these changes were carved in stone, Heseltine said it depended on a number of factors, including Hantsport dissolving and then choosing to join Kings County, as well as the acceptance of that decision by the UARB.
Coun. Mike Ennis, who represents District 12, attended the meeting. After the meeting, he said it “would be premature to comment at this point.”
After all three studies currently underway are completed, Kings County plans to hold three public meetings – one in the east, one in the middle and one in the west of the county – to explain the process and answer questions.
Ennis described it as “a hurry-up process,” given that everything has to be decided by early September. “Once that happens, we can move forward.”
Additional meetings with Heseltine are scheduled for Aug. 19 in Falmouth and Aug. 20 in Hantsport.