Top News

UPDATE: Co-ordinating Committee moving forward with nine or 11 districts for new regional government

Members of the Windsor-West Hants Transition Committee, include, from left: West Hants deputy warden Paul Morton, Windsor Mayor Anna Allen, transition co-ordinator Kevin Latimer, West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian and Windsor deputy mayor Laurie Murley.
Members of the Windsor-West Hants Coordinating Committee, include, from left: West Hants deputy warden Paul Morton, Windsor Mayor Anna Allen, transition co-ordinator Kevin Latimer, West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian and Windsor deputy mayor Laurie Murley. - Colin Chisholm
WENTWORTH CREEK, N.S. —

WENTWORTH CREEK – What sounds better to you, nine or 11 electoral districts? That’s what the Windsor West Hants Coordinating Committee, which is spearheading the consolidation effort, wants to know.

The recommendation came from Stantec following the first phase of its governance review study, which included public meetings and an online survey. The recommendation was also endorsed by Windsor and West Hants’ chief administrative officers Louis Coutinho and Martin Laycock.

The committee could have gone forward and picked a number of their own on Feb. 25, but they opted to proceed with the recommendation unanimously.

Now the committee awaits more community feedback on a couple of potential district designs, which will be presented at an upcoming slate of community meetings throughout the month of March. An online survey will also be a part of the process.

Physical surveys will also be made available at municipal offices.

Read More:

John Heseltine, director of the governance review with Stantec, said they received their best survey response turnout ever for this type of survey during phase one of the review, adding that the majority of respondents were in favour of nine to 12 elected members of council.

The most popular choice among respondents was a council of 10, which would include nine councillors and a mayor.

The next phase of the review will deal with how the districts should be placed on the map.

No mailout

Deputy Warden Paul Morton asked if there will be a mail out for the next survey dealing with district layout.

Laycock said, despite the effort to get thousands of printed surveys to people for the first phase, less than 200 filled them out.

“Having 5,100 surveys delivered and getting a response of 130, I would identify that as not an effective approach,” Laycock said. “There is limited internet access available in some of our rural areas, and our West Hants councillors have cell phone (data) enabled iPads, so rather than doing door-to-door surveys, perhaps they could be done there.”

Heseltine said there will likely be two scenarios presented to the public during the next phase, one with nine districts, another with 11.

Currently, West Hants council has 10 councillors (including a warden) and the Town of Windsor has four councillors and a mayor, for a combined total of 15 elected officials.

If the committee ultimately decides to go with nine districts, there would be 10 elected members, with a mayor elected at large. If they proceed with 11, there would be 12 total.

Heseltine said in his report to the committee that the survey should be considered a “canvas” of the region, and not a poll, as it was only filled out by those who wanted to give their views.

The report also says that they didn’t find any signs of hijacking the results, adding that they intentionally made the survey open to multiple submissions from the same IP address to allow multiple people from the same household to fill it out.

Heseltine said that those who preferred a larger council size were more concerned with representation and those who wanted a smaller elected body, desired efficiency.

The committee also looked at Dr. Jamie Baxter’s report, which provided a deep dive into the history of regional municipalities and where the Windsor-West Hants region fits within that.

Baxter’s report noted that historically, amalgamated municipalities tend to start with a larger council and then as they mature, slowly whittle down in size.   

For example, when the Region of Queens first amalgamated into a regional municipality it went from nine to seven following governance reviews.

The committee is hoping to have their preferences sent to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, which approves all electoral boundaries, by April 2019.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said there 16 districts in Queens County upon amalgamation, that was never the case, 16 was the total number of elected officials for the two municipal units pre-consolidation. The new consolidated council size was initially set at nine and eventually reduced to seven.

We regreat the error 

Recent Stories