Nfld. & Labrador

3 Newfoundland towns upset over electoral boundaries change

Plans to change electoral boundaries are not going over well for leaders of three Newfoundland towns
A map showing the proposed new electoral boundaries for Newfoundland.

Plans to change electoral boundaries are not going over well for leaders of three Newfoundland towns.

Last week, the electoral boundaries commission released a proposal for reducing the number of districts in the province from 48 to 40.

In Marystown, the new boundaries would see the town divided between two districts -- Placentia West-Bellevue and Burin-Grand Bank

More than 60 residents filled the Marystown council chamber Tuesday night to speak out against the change.

Former MHA Mary Hodder said separating the town into two political districts will remove its sense of community — something she says is the heart of the town.

"Just to take one small area and segregate it from the rest, it breaks that sense of unity that we have been wanting and working toward all of these years," Hodder told CBC's Martine Blue.

Some residents also expressed worries about what it will be like trying to deal with two different MHAs on town issues. 

Others brought up the possibility of problems if one of the two members representing Marystown ends up in cabinet. 

A committee is being formed to consider all resident concerns and present them to the province.

Stephenville to lose a member

Meanwhile, Stephenville residents are upset for the opposite reason; they'll be going from two MHAs down to one.

Stephenville Mayor Tom O'Brien thinks his town will suffer if they lose an MHA under the proposed electoral boundary changes. (CBC)

Part of the community is currently in the district of Port au Port, with the rest in Stephenville East-St. George's. 

The redrawing of boundaries would put the entire town in a new district to be called Stephenville-Port au Port, with only one MHA.

Mayor Tom O'Brien said he's concerned he'll lose a voice for his town if that change goes ahead. 

"Any time you have two voices at the table it's better than just having the one," he told CBC's Jeremy Eaton.

"Any time your representation shrinks, as in this proposed change now, it has to be a concern to you."

O'Brien said he plans on voicing his concerns during public meetings next month.

Pasadena

Pasadena, which was also previously divided by political boundaries, would be affected by the electoral boundaries change as well.

Currently, one half of the town is in Humber East and the other half is in the district of Humber Valley.

Under the new boundaries, all of Pasadena would be a part of the Humber North district. 

Otto Goulding, mayor of the town, said having two members was good for the people of Pasadena.

"We were lucky for a town of this size to have two," he said.

"The way the boundaries split, we had two representatives. It was somewhat advantageous to have two than one."

Goulding also plans to appear at public meetings to argue those advantages in hopes of reversing some of the boundary changes.

With files from Martine Blue and Jeremy Eaton

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