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Cumberland County elects status quo on electoral boundaries

Cumberland municipal council is looking to maintain the status quo when it comes to electoral boundaries and the number of councillors.

 At its Sept. 28, 2022, regular meeting, council is expected to direct staff to proceed with a simplified application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to maintain the existing number of councillors and polling district boundaries.

Municipal planner Nelson Bezanson presented a report on electoral boundaries during council’s September committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Normally, municipalities review the number of councillors and their districts every eight years, including 2022. Cumberland County did a review in May 2015 following the dissolution of Springhill and another interim review upon Parrsboro’s dissolution in December 2015. Following this, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board ordered the Municipality of Cumberland to conduct another electoral boundary review in 2019.

Following an extensive consultative process, including a review of its governance model and electoral boundaries, the municipality decided to switch from a warden-led system of governance to mayor elected at large and a reduction from 13 elected councillors to eight.

In conducting its review and making its recommendations to council, staff relied on direct public consultations, a comparison with other rural municipalities and a 2015 electoral boundary report conducted by Stantec Consulting. There was also a smaller governance study prepared in 2015 as part of the Parrsboro dissolution.

In 2020, the utility and review board approved the reduced size of council and the new polling district boundaries. The municipal election in 2022 saw the election of a mayor and eight councillors. In 2020, the utility and review board approved the reduced size of council and the new polling district boundarielection of a mayor and eight councillors.

Council could opt to do another formal electoral boundary review, but time is limited before the Dec. 31 submission deadline. While the utility and review board doesn’t have the jurisdiction to waive the statutory requirement for further study and application this year - assuming council has satisfied itself through public consultation that there is acceptance of the reduced council size and the configuration of the polling districts - it is prepared to consider a simplified application with respect to the 2022 review.