Saturday, September 23, 2023

St. Mary’s voters can now ‘map’ their districts

  • November 9 2022
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ST. MARY’S – Citizens of St. Mary’s have a new online tool to help them choose the actual size and shape of their electoral representation for years to come.

Less than a month after it approved reducing the number of polling districts in the municipality from seven to five, council has posted an interactive map offering six detailed options for a more streamlined St. Mary’s. Each includes specific boundary lines, total area in square kilometres, number of electors, and major communities.

According to the notice, “To make sure that every elector’s vote has similar power as the municipality’s population and composition changes [and] to ensure that residents … are being represented in an equitable manner, efforts are made through this process [to see] that each polling district has a similar number of residents with common interests and identities.”

In one, for example, a 500 square-kilometre area east of Trafalgar down to Liscomb, would represent roughly 446 voters. That area, with approximately the same number of voters, is now shared by District 2 and part of District 7, represented by Councillors Charlene Zinck and Everett Baker, respectively.

St. Mary’s planner on the project, Ian Watson of Upland Consulting of Dartmouth, told council last month that his recent survey of the municipality indicated that most respondents wanted smaller government. “Seventy per cent suggested that [there are] too many polling districts. Just under 30 per cent supported the current number [seven]. Around 25 per cent suggested going down to five councillors, and about 45 per cent suggested going down as far as three. One person suggested increasing council to nine-plus councillors.”

He added that he received a 70 online and three printed responses to the questionnaire asking residents about their knowledge of local government’s availability, structure and size, as well as their priorities for representation. Council is expected to send its final recommendation to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board later this year.

Public meetings on the six options will take place at Liscombe Legion, Indian Harbour Lake/Jordanville Community Centre and Greenfield Oldsters Club at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15, 16, and 17, respectively.

Comments can also be made through the interactive map web page, available through the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s website, or through hard copies available from the municipal office, until Thursday, Nov. 24.