The Electoral Boundaries Commission has released its final report and there are some huge changes recommended for Shelburne County.
The former Shelburne riding would be split in two with Barrington, Clark’s Harbour and the rest of the western part of the county added to the Argyle riding. The rest of Shelburne would amalgamate with Queens County to form the new Queens-Shelburne constituency.
While the report calls for no changes to the Yarmouth riding, the former protected Acadian ridings of Argyle and Clare would be eliminated.
Instead, the constituency of Argyle is to be renamed Argyle-Barrington. Argyle will gain the Municipality of the District of Barrington and the Town of Clark’s Harbour.
The riding of Clare expands eastward to include the remainder of Digby County. This riding will be renamed Clare-Digby.
The final report was made public at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sept. 25.
Over the summer the commission held public consultation sessions on an interim report that had been released in July. That interim report had recommended dividing up the riding of Yarmouth and merging part of it with the riding of Argyle to create a new Yarmouth-Argyle riding and merging part of it with Clare to form a Clare-Yarmouth riding.
The Acadian ridings did not meet the population terms of reference that the commission were told were legally binding and so the government declared the interim report to be null and void and told commission members to go back to the drawing board.
"This final report completes the third review of Nova Scotia's electoral boundaries since 1992," said commission chair Teresa MacNeil. "Changes in population call for shifts in legislative representation to achieve relative voting parity in light of sometimes conflicting public views and interests.
“In several communities, we met with very large numbers of citizens whose voices underscored formal presentations. We sincerely thank all who took the time to participate in this important democratic exercise. We took many conflicting views into consideration. Regrettably, we know that in the end, many will not agree with our recommendations.”
Aside from the elimination of the protected ridings, among other things the report proposes:
• there should be 51 members in the House of Assembly
• one constituency should be removed from Cape Breton and two from mainland Nova Scotia
• two new constituencies are recommended for the Halifax area
• boundary adjustments in the remaining constituencies are also guided by the goal of relative voter parity
Commission members were appointed at the end of December 2011, to establish not more than 52 seats that would allow each voter in the province to enjoy the same voting power, to the greatest extent possible. The commission was asked that all constituencies fall within 25 per cent of the average number of electors. The commission submitted the report to the attorney general on Monday and to the clerk of the House this morning.
While the commission was not bound by county or municipal boundaries in redistribution, these have been used wherever possible. The commission accommodated existing polling districts and used land features such as highways and water bodies that provide natural and workable separation of population areas.
Despite the challenges posed by Nova Scotia's geography and population distribution, all of the province's geographic regions fall within 15 per cent from equal electoral population. Elector populations in 31 constituencies fall within 15 per cent of the average and 22 constituencies fall within 10 per cent.
The final report can be read here: