27 Courthouse Road Tusket, NS B0W 3M0

p. 902-648-2311 f. 902-648-0367

[email protected] www.munargyle.com



Executive Summary ............................................... 2


Public Consultation Process ................................. 2


Public Feedback .................................................... 3


Consultation Results ............................................. 5


Recommendations ................................................. 7

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In 2014, all municipal councils within the province of Nova Scotia are required to conduct a study of polling districts within their region. The Municipal Boundary Review must be completed and presented to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) by December 31, 2014. The Municipality must consider several factors in determining the number and boundaries of polling districts, including: number of electors, relative parity of voting power, population density, community of interest and geographic size. Public consultation is a critical element of the review and can be approached in a variety of ways. More emphasis is now being placed on web based consultations and this can be done via a municipality’s website, their Facebook page, Twitter tweets, E-mail mailing lists, etc. The choice is up to each municipality, but multiple opportunities for input must be provided to all residents. These options are all available 24 hours a day making it more convenient for residents to provide input on their terms. Along with the public consultation process to gather feedback from the public, this report outlines the feedback and results of the consultations and the recommendations based on the results.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION PROCESS In late 2013, Council began discussions regarding the municipal boundaries and determined options it wished to explore. Staff then began to collect data for each option which included population, number of electors and average number of electors per councillor. Once the determined submission options were fully explored, Council approved 2 options to be presented to the public: a revised 9 district scenario and a new 7 district scenario. Taking these options as the basis for public consultation, a plan was developed to obtain feedback and input from the public. A preliminary draft process was developed by a staff committee and sent to several others for review. Following their review, a public consultation process was approved by Council on February 11, 2014. This process included the following milestones:    

February 2014 – Process Development & Material Production March 2014 – June 2014 – Public Consultations July 2014 – October 2014 – Report Development November 2014 – Report Submission

Four public consultation meetings were subsequently scheduled over a one week period in four separate locations: 

May 5th at the Pubnico Lions Club in Pubnico

  

May 6th at the Club Acadien in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau May 7th at the Kemptville Fire Hall in Kemptville May 12th at the Wedgeport Fire Hall in Wedgeport

These meetings were advertised two weeks in advanced in both local newspapers, on both local radio stations, on our municipal website and Facebook page and in local church bulletins. Each meeting was moderated by 3 - 4 municipal employees and had identical agendas which included a welcome introduction by CAO Alain Muise, a group discussion in a café style environment where the participants answered a set list of questions, an opportunity for individuals or groups to make a presentation and a conclusion/wrap up of the participants input. PUBLIC CONSULTATION REPORT - JUNE 10, 2014


In the case that a large number of participants were present, the group was separated into smaller groups during the group discussions to ensure that the staff moderator could note the comments from each participant. In addition to the public meetings, the public had the opportunity to provide input through our boundary review page on our municipal website or submit written submissions personally at the municipal office, by e-mail or by fax.

PUBLIC FEEDBACK In total approximately 35 people participated in the 4 public meetings. During each public c meeting, the participants were invited to answer 3 specific questions regarding the 2 options presented by Council: 1. 2. 3.

Which option do you prefer and why? Of your selection, what changes would you make, if any? What do you consider your “community of interest” to be and do you see it being affected in either options?

To help the participants consider these questions, maps of the 2 options along with a written description of the changes was presented. In addition, the financial impact of each option was explained and information regarding population, geography and communities of interest was provided.

General Feedback During the consultation process we received excellent input from the public. A wide range of opinions and suggestions were noted and there was valuable dialogue between staff and the public. In general, the participants weighed the pros and cons and made argument in favor of both options.

1. WHICH OPTION DO YOU PREFER AND WHY? We first asked the groups which option they preferred and why. This was asked first of the group to provide staff with a sense of the group’s general opinion and how to proceed with the next questions. The answers to this questioned varied depending on the location and participants. Here is some of the feedback we received in response to this question separated between the preferred options:

7 Districts    

Compared to other local municipal units, we are above average in the number of Councillors. The number of electors represented by each Councillor is too high. The money saved from reducing, while insignificant on individual tax bills, could be forwarded to nonprofit organisations who are in need or other services. Council’s work load could be done with 7 Councillors.

9 Districts    

Protects the communities of interest, culture and language as it currently is now. The amount of money saved to tax payers would be insignificant when looking at individual tax bills. The geography of our municipality is vast and 9 Councillors allows proper representation. Council would not be able to maintain its representation on regional & provincial committees with only 7.



2. OF YOUR SELECTION, WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU MAKE, IF ANY? We then asked the groups what changes they would make, if any, to their preferred option. This question was asked of the groups once it was determined which option they preferred and to be used in the case that one or both of the options would have to be modified and brought back to the public. The participants who preferred the 9 district option did not have any significant changes to make as they were very similar to the boundaries we currently have. The participants who preferred the option of 7 districts had a few suggestions regarding communities of interest, depending which community was affected. More details regarding these suggestions will be discussed in the consultation results.

3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR “COMMUNITY OF INTEREST” TO BE AND DO YOU SEE IT BEING AFFECTED IN EITHER OPTIONS? The final question asked to the groups what they considered their “community of interest” to be and if they seen it being affected in either options. This question was asked of the group to get a better sense of community of interests and to gather information in the case that one or both of the options would have to be modified. In the Pubnico region, the participants considered their community of interest to be any of the 4 local districts. This represented a large community of interest in which they felt they could contact either Councillor for help. In East Kemptville, they considered their community of interest to be the community of East Kemptville but could associate themselves with the community of Quinan due to the fact that they share similar political issues. The communities of Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau and Eel Brook considered themselves to be a community of interest together. This was evidently raised at their public meeting as being an issue with the 7 district option. Finally, in the Wedgeport region, the residents of Upper Wedgeport present at the meeting expressed that they relate more to the district in Lower Wedgeport rather than to that of Little River Habour and Comeau’s Hill. These questions provided staff with valuable information regarding communities of interest in general but also provided great feedback for the boundary review process. In the following section, this feedback will be explained in more detailed.



CONSULTATION RESULTS The overall majority of the public consultation results suggested to maintain 9 polling districts. As explained, we held 4 public consultation meetings in 4 different locations and each had valued feedback.

PUBNICO The participants in Pubnico indicated that they felt well represented by the Councillors from all 4 local districts and highlighted arguments noted above. They valued the cost savings and suggested how the funds could be re-invested. For these reasons, all 6 participants felt that reducing to 7 districts would be appropriate.

SAINTE-ANNE-DU-RUISSEAU In Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, almost all of the 13 participants, including the Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas, felt that maintaining 9 districts would be the preferred option due to the separation of their community of interest and the minimal cost savings. Three people were in favor of 7 or less due to the fact that the work of Council could be accomplished by 7 Councillors. One of those people, however, did not like the boundaries as they were presented.

EAST KEMPTVILLE In East Kemptville, it was clearly stated by all of the 7 participants that maintaining 9 districts was preferred to maintain their community of interest and ensure that their geography was respected. They did indicate, however, that if the 7 district option was chosen, they see themselves having more political similarities with Quinan.

WEDGEPORT Finally, in Wedgeport, almost all of the 10 participants were in favor of maintaining 9 district. The majority felt that the cost savings was important but representation would be reduced. They also indicated that they felt the work of Council was too much for 7 Councillors and had no issues with the lines in either of the options presented.


in favor of 7


total participants


in favor of 9

Even though the overall majority suggested to maintain 9 districts, there were nonetheless good arguments made in the case of the 7 district option.



Major Concerns SAINTE-ANNE-DU-RUISSEAU / EEL BROOK The only community of interest that was clearly separated within the 7 district option was the communities of SainteAnne-du-Ruisseau (S.A.R.) and Eel Brook. In the past, the municipal Council had separated Lower Eel Brook and S.A.R. but later readjusted the boundaries at a future boundary review. The community, at that time, felt these two communities should be represented by one Councillor and this view is shared by the residents in those districts today. At the public meeting in S.A.R. it was clearly stated by all of the participants that if a 7 district option was chosen, the two communities would have to stay together. At that meeting, the Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas also made a presentation to the group in favor or maintaining 9 districts. Therefore, if Council would choose to reduce to 7 districts, they suggest they be combined no matter the effect it would have on population and voter parity.

EAST KEMPTVILLE Another important piece of information was received in the community of East Kemptville. Within the 7 district option, which they immediately stated that they opposed, it is proposed that the community of East Kemptville would be merged with the district including the Argyles. After reviewing this option in more detail, the participants at the public meeting in East Kemptville clearly indicated that in the case of a 7 district option, which they opposed, they would associate themselves much more with the community of Quinan due to the similar political issues they share (ex. cell phone coverage, remote residences, flooding, etc.). Therefore, if Council would choose to reduce to 7 districts, they suggest this should be modified from the current proposal.



RECOMMENDATIONS Options There is a variety of information and data which is reviewed in the boundary review process. Once collected, the data and information will not clearly conclude one option or another. Therefore, reaching a conclusion will depend on the set of data and information you prioritize. Depending on the path prioritized by Council, staff will then determine the most effective plan of action.

OPTION 1 If Council wishes to maintain 9 districts with only minor corrections, we do not recommend another round of public consultations as enough feedback has been received on this option and a final report could be drafted for the UARB.

OPTION 2 If Council wishes to consider a reduction to 7 districts with the changes suggested by the public consultations, staff would then recommend beginning another round of public consultations to ensure that the feedback included in the second draft of the 7 district option was included.