The people of Shelburne County were "blindsided" by the Electoral Boundaries Commission's report that recommended slicing the electoral district in half, a public meeting heard Thursday.
"The people of Shelburne County were blindsided by the recommendation of the commission's final report, which effectively eliminates the constituency of Shelburne County," said Roy O’Donnell, a newly-elected town councillor.
"Who could have foreseen this outcome, that half of Shelburne County would be given to Argyle and the other half given to Queens? Incomprehensible."
More than 100 people packed the Sandy Point Lighthouse Centre to voice their concerns to the law amendments committee, which met Thursday night outside Province House for the first time in its history.
Of the mayors, ministers and residents who spoke at the meeting, only one speaker agreed with the recommended changes. Everyone else spoke for maintaining the status quo and preserving the current riding.
"I can assure you the people of Shelburne County are outraged and strongly opposed to this recommendation," said O'Donnell.
Last month, the Electoral Boundaries Commission submitted its third draft of a new electoral map — following months of wrangling over the rights of minority groups — and voters in the district of Shelburne were stunned to learn their riding had been cut in half without public consultation.
The commission recommended that four minority ridings merge into nearby electoral districts.
'It doesn't make any sense'
Shelburne's boundaries were affected because the protected Acadian seat in Argyle did not meet the criteria to be within 25 per cent of the average number of voters.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission was tasked with redrawing the province's electoral map to ensure voters are afforded equal representation in the legislative assembly — a process that is carried out every 10 years to reflect population changes.
Josh Brown, a resident who attended the meeting, said dividing the community will create confusion.
"It doesn't make any sense to switch it. There are too many things that are involved with our health and our school boards," he said.
"It's going to cost more money for us to try to do it this way and try to recoup all the damage we're going to do with the relationships we are building."
Andrew Huskilson, the son and grandson of former Liberal cabinet ministers from the area, got a round of applause when he suggested the only thing the report was good for was "to light a fire."
The meetings continue Friday morning.