HALIFAX: Proposed changes to two electoral districts in the Strait area are proceeding.

On October 9, Attorney General and Justice Minister Mark Furey tabled changes to the House of Assembly Act, which includes reinstating the constituency of Richmond and returning the Town of Port Hawkesbury into the Inverness district.

These changes will increase the number of provincial electoral districts from 51 to 55.

The boundary changes introduced today reflect the work of the independent 2018-19 Electoral Boundaries Commission,” said Furey.

In July 2018, the all-party Select Committee of the House of Assembly established the 2018-19 Electoral Boundaries Commission. The role of the commission was to recommend the boundaries and names for all electoral districts that make up the membership of the House of Assembly.

In last November’s interim report, following a province-wide consultative process, the commission presented four alternatives; keeping the present 51 electoral districts, 55 electoral districts, 55 with dual representation for Inverness County, and 56 to include an exceptional electoral district for Chéticamp.

The commission’s final report was filed on April 15 and the terms of reference mandated that only one set of boundaries be recommended. Using information from the public meetings and from Elections Nova Scotia, the commission, recommended a House of Assembly of 55 seats. The commission did not recommend Chéticamp as an exceptional district.

“The commission consulted widely across the province to fulfill our terms of reference which was to strike a balance between voter parity and ensuring effective representation for all Nova Scotians,” explained Colin Dodds, commission chair.

The independent commission called for the restoration of the Acadian electoral district of Richmond as it was before it was gerrymandered into the riding of Cape Breton-Richmond, along with the Town of Port Hawkesbury and parts of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, in 2012.

Port Hawkesbury was reunited with the rest of Inverness County in the district of Inverness, the same constituency the town belonged to prior to the boundary review seven years ago.

The changes also include a move to digital boundaries. Access to new interactive digital riding maps will make it easier and more convenient for Nova Scotians to find information related to electoral ridings.