Meetings on future of Hantsport make stop in Kentville

John Decoste
Published on August 25, 2014

Consultant John Heseltine, left, explains to Kings County Warden Diana Brothers and Coun. Kim MacQuarrie some of the boundary changes that might take place in Kings County if Hantsport were to become part of the county. Heseltine held the fourth of five planned public meetings on the governance issue Aug. 25 in Kentville. 

©John DeCoste

Other than those who live on or near the border with West Hants, there doesn’t seem to be a much interest among Kings County residents in the possibility of Hantsport being added to the county.

Consultant John Heseltine was in the Kings County Council chambers Aug. 25 for the fourth of five scheduled meetings on governance. Previous meetings were held in Hantsport, Hants Border and Falmouth and one more meeting is scheduled for Aug. 26 in Windsor.

There were about a dozen people in attendance Monday, most of them from Hantsport, plus warden Diana Brothers and councillors Kim MacQuarrie, Pauline Raven and Mike Ennis - the councillor for the district Hantsport might join.

Heseltine said the meetings were “part of the public consultation process recommended by the Utility and Review Board for boundary reviews.”

While this is “not a boundary review per se,” it is similar “in that it is looking at the issue of how municipal governance would be affected” by Hantsport ultimately joining one of the other of its neighbouring municipalities.

Heseltine said he had received some feedback from previous meetings, particularly the one in Hants Border, which had resulted in some subtle alterations to the Kings County boundary changes he had presented the previous week.

The adjustments included taking area from District 9 and moving it to District 8, and making slight changes in District 11 (New Minas) so that the boundaries of the resulting district would more closely conform to the expanded village boundaries.

In total, he is recommending 13 areas of varying sizes be shifted, the largest being Polling District 12-F which moves to District 10. In all 1,611 Kings County electors would be affected by the proposed changes.

“At this point, we’re getting down to the final details” he said, of how the political map might look if Hantsport, with its 921 electors, becomes part of Kings County. "I’m comfortable we’ve moved very few voters, and made very few changes.”

Warden Brothers asked Heseltine if, in making his recommended changes, he had taken into account anticipated further growth in parts of Kings County.

“I’m aware the corridor is more likely to develop than the more rural areas. We’re looking at an eight-year cycle,” he replied, during which time parts of the county, such as the expanded area of New Minas, “have the potential to expand.”

Speaking afterward, Brothers said there were two other studies going on to look at other aspects of the issue.

“Once all three studies are done, our citizens will have the opportunity to attend public meetings, ask questions and be part of the process.” Kings County, she said, plans to hold three public meetings: one in the east, the middle and the west.

Brothers said she has concerns about “making District 8 any bigger, when it is already our biggest district in terms of geography.”

She would also like Heseltine to talk to the county's planning department about growth forecasts. 

“It doesn’t take long for subdivisions to spring up, which can add a lot of people to a district.”

Asked whether she would welcome Hantsport as part of Kings County, Brothers reserved judgement.

“I’m interested in looking at the other studies, on things like roads, infrastructure and tax rates,” before commenting any further, she said.

Heseltine said the meetings were going well, with 80 people at the first two  “Engagement at the meetings has been good, and what I could have hoped for.”

Heseltine is scheduled to submit his report to the province's Utility and Review Board Sept. 2. The other two studies have the same deadline and submission date.

Once the UARB receives all three studies, “the board will hold a hearing, where input from the public will be received.”

The studies will also be given to the Hantsport Town Council “to help them in their final decision” whether to dissolve their town.