LOWER SACKVILLE: Beaver Bank wasn’t the reason the Electoral Boundary Commission was at Acadia Hall in Lower Sackville to start their province-wide tour on election boundaries on Sept. 4, but it quickly became the reason.
Three of the five speakers who got up to speak were all in agreement in their message to Commission Chairman Colin Dodds and the board representatives from communities across N.S.—Beaver Bank deserves to be all in one riding, not divided as it currently is between the ridings of MLA Bill Horne and PC MLA Brad Johns.
Both representatives and a community resident, Alex Holmes, spoke to the commission about their hope that the group looks at the community as part of its review. Johns’ message was the same as Hornes, although he arrived after the meeting concluded due to another meeting.
“I’ve come to the conclusion, I think it would be fair for me to say this and it’s nothing against the people of Beaver Bank, they’re wonderful people,” said Horne. “I think they should have their own MLA or be all put together in one riding. Currently, they’re split up between me and PC MLA Brad Johns.
“I see where there’s two MLAs for one area and it occurs occasionally where we get people contacting us who are in Brad’s area, and people in our area of the riding contacting Brad thinking he’s their MLA.”
He continued saying that the split divides the community.
”They do need to be together,” said Horne. “I think it’s only fair that Beaver Bank is their own riding, or they are merged into one so they have some unity.
“It’s confusing the community a bit.”
Horne said it’s only bothered him over the past year or two.
“I think with this happening that it would good for the commission to consider this issue as well,” he said. “I feel strongly that the residents of Beaver Bank should all be together.”
Holmes spoke in support of Horne’s comment.
“I believe that in my time in the riding with my family and my political work that it does make better sense to put Beaver Bank all as one,” said Holmes. “I would hope that consideration would be taken in redrawing the boundaries that look at the Beaver Bank area so it can become it’s own riding or all be part of either Bill’s or MLA Johns’ riding.
The Commission is going across the province looking at boundaries after a court ruled a few years back there was “unconstitutional meddling” by the Dexter NDP government in the 2012 report, according to the online community newspaper South Coast Today.
So, as Dodds told the sparse crowd on the sunny early September night, they were tasked with doing the review and providing a preliminary report to the provincial government by November 30, and a full report is to be presented to Premier Stephen McNeil by April 1, 2019.
He said the Commission is looking at restoring the seats of Clare, Argyle, Preston, and Richmond as was proposed in the previous commission in 2011-12; and make Cheticamp and environs part of the restored Richmond electoral district; or in place of that make Cheticamp and environs an extraordinary electoral district; create additional ridings in Bedford and Cole Harbour; and obtain public input on the creation of a members-at-large group to provide for effective representation and voter parity.