Shelburne electoral boundary meeting set this week
Meeting space criticized for being too small
Nova Scotia's Justice Minister says he's pleased so many people are interested in the proposed changes to the electoral boundaries of the Shelburne district, despite concerns about space limitations at the meeting venue.
The public will have a chance to voice their concerns when the law amendments committee meets in Sandy Point — about 10 kilometres south of Shelburne — on Thursday night and Friday morning.
The Sandy Point Lighthouse Centre, where the meeting is taking place, has limited parking and holds fewer than 200 people.
"I stress the importance that we are going there and it's unfortunate that we don't have a bigger facility but this is the way that it's worked out," said Justice Minister Ross Landry.
"But we are in the community, we're there to hear and we're there to allow the democratic process to flow."
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, including Shelburne, merge into nearby electoral districts.
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 is 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.
Sterling Belliveau, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the MLA for Shelburne, was put in the politically awkward position of criticizing the proposed changes, even though it was his government that had forced the issue by insisting every constituency in the province needed to be roughly the same size.
Belliveau has been calling his constituents to let them know of this week's meetings.
"I want everyone in Shelburne County to have this opportunity and this is what law amendments is about," he said Tuesday.
"It's about the checks and balances and a democracy where people that are affected will have that opportunity and that's what I encourage."
Members of the public hoping to make a presentation are being urged to register in advance by calling the Nova Scotia legislative counsel.