Municipal districts need revision – returning officer

ARICHAT: The returning officer in the recent municipal election had some advice for the new council.

During a committee-of-the-whole meeting on November 9 in Arichat, Municipality of the County of Richmond returning officer Clair Rankin presented his final report to Richmond Municipal Council on the October 17 election.

Approximately six ago, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board ordered that Richmond County’s municipal districts would be reduced from 10 to five, and Rankin told council that the 10-year review of the new boundaries will take place in four years.

In that time, Rankin suggested council look at a few communities in Richmond County, including Thibeauville, where four residents of the small community were forced to vote in Grand Anse, despite living minutes from the Riverdale Community Centre.

“The line between districts 3 and 4 should be moved slightly west; it has to be moved about 400 feet to include all these homes,” Rankin said.

In the case of Lennox Passage, Rankin said some residents wanted to vote in Louisdale, but were unable since they were lumped in with district 2.

“People went to vote and wouldn’t vote. We had people who left the hall,” he said. “One guy said, ‘I live in Lennox Passage but I want to vote in Louisdale, that’s my community of choice.’ But because district 2 needed numbers, they included them.”

Some of those who live along Grand Greve Road are in district 4, the rest are in district 5, Rankin said.

“The boundary simply cuts the road in two, where if you live in the first kilometre of the road, you’re in district 4, if you cross this imaginary line, you’re in district 5,” he reported.

Along with district 1 councillor Shawn Samson who offered his thanks to Rankin and the election staff, district 5 councillor Brent Sampson agreed that some lines need to be changed.

“I’m glad somebody else is noticing some of these strange anomalies, the people in district 4 noticed as well, I got calls about that road,” Sampson said. “Another spot would be the Salmon River Road where there’s a section that falls into district 4 but there’s no houses on it.”

Rankin concluded that if the current council can do the work in this term, it will provide the next council with a strong case to have these boundary revisions approved.

“The UARB does look on cases like these quite favourably, if you can make the case for them,” he added.