Acadia pride was on display at the electoral boundaries session on April 19. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
An independent Electoral Boundaries Commission has completed its interim report and the report says the province's three Acadian ridings and one African Nova Scotia riding should be retained.
The interim report also states that there should continue to be 52 members in the House of Assembly, however in saying that, a majority of commissioners felt two new constituencies should be added the Halifax area to accommodate population growth. The report discusses removing on constituency from urban Cape Breton and another from mainland Nova Scotia.
In this region of the province Commission recommends that the constituencies of Yarmouth, Argyle, Clare and Shelburne remain unchanged. It says that the constituency of Digby-Annapolis should be expanded into Annapolis.
The commission says the constituency of Queens should be further expanded into Lunenburg West to create the new constituency of Queens-Lunenburg West. The remainder of Lunenburg West to be renamed Lunenburg Centre.
It says that Queens also be expanded into Digby-Annapolis to take in communities that are adjacent to interior communities of Queens.
You can read the interim report by clicking this link.
The interim report was submitted and released on June 1, in keeping with the mandate given to the commission by the House Select Committee.
Commission members were appointed at the end of December to establish not more than 52 seats and maximize parity of voting power. The commission was asked that all constituencies be within 25 per cent of the average number of electors.
It was asked to provide advice on how legislators can address concerns about the size of geographic areas, community history and interests, and linguistic and cultural diversity, noting the Acadian and African-Nova Scotian populations.
A wide range of views and interests were presented during the public consultations in March and April.
"The key issues confronting the commission today are essentially those that challenged the two previous commissions," said commission chair Teresa MacNeil. "They are the status of 'protected constituencies', achieving relative voter parity to the extent possible, and population shifts requiring adjustment."
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The majority of commissioners determined that:
• there should continue to be 52 members in the House of Assembly
• the four "protected constituencies" should be retained
• one constituency should be removed from urban Cape Breton and another from mainland Nova Scotia
• two new constituencies should be added to the Halifax area to accommodate population growth on the western side of the harbor
• boundary adjustments in the remaining constituencies be guided by the goal of relative voter parity, to the extent possible
While the commission was not bound by county or municipal boundaries, it has used them where feasible. It has worked with, and accommodated, existing polling districts as well as geographical features such as highways and bodies of water that provide natural separation of population areas.
With the help of Elections Nova Scotia, commissioners examined boundary adjustments to ensure the 48 non-protected constituencies would be within 25 per cent of the average number of electors.
Despite the challenges the proposed changes would have, all of province's six geographic regions fall within 10 per cent of the average. Elector populations in 37 constituencies would be within 15 per cent of the average and 29 would fall within 10 per cent.
The commission has thanked Nova Scotians for their interest shown in the first phase and looks forward to more engagement in the next round of public consultations, which begin June 6 in Antigonish. This second round of consultations sees meetings also being held in Sydney, Cornwallis, Bridgewater, Halifax and Dartmouth.