Back to the draw­ing board

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRIS SHAN­NON cshan­non@cb­

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity com­mit­tee once again re­view­ing the size and bound­aries of dis­tricts.

SYD­NEY — The long, ar­du­ous task of re­view­ing the size and bound­aries of dis­tricts in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has fi­nally be­gun — again.

Com­mit­tee of the whole met Tues­day to re­view the draft terms of ref­er­ence and re­quest for pro­pos­als to hire a con­sul­tant to con­duct the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process.

The 10 coun­cil­lors present and Mayor John Mor­gan ap­proved a staff re­port that in­cludes the process of hir­ing an out­side con­sul­tant to “en­gage the en­tire com­mu­nity in mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion” on the pre­ferred size of CBRM coun­cil, and sub­mit a phase one re­port by June 15.

The sec­ond phase of the re­view will be­gin fol­low­ing coun­cil ap­proval of the con­sul­tant’s re­port. It in­cludes re­align­ing dis­tricts based on pop­u­la­tion changes over the last decade and re­work­ing the bound­aries by the CBRM’s plan­ning depart­ment.

Coun­cil will also take part in the sec­ond phase and pub­lic in­put will be at the fore­front, whether it’s through sur­veys, fo­cus groups, or stake­holder meet­ings, said CBRM plan­ning di­rec­tor Doug Foster.

A fi­nal re­port is slated to be sub­mit­ted to coun­cil by Oct. 30, and once ap­proved, it will be for­warded to the Nova Sco­tia Util­ity and Re­view Board by Dec. 31.

“ The two-phase ap­proach is ex­actly what the board spec­i­fied,” Foster said.

“All the other de­tails, there’s lee­way in how that’s done. There’s a va­ri­ety of ways to con­sult peo­ple. Our RFP (re­quest for pro­pos­als) doesn’t re­strict that.”

It’s a con­tin­u­a­tion of the process that be­gan in 2005.

The CBRM went through this four years ago with then-coun­cil­lor Vince Hall as chair of a con­tro­ver­sial bound­ary re­view com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee re­fused Mor­gan’s of­fer to hold a plebiscite and went on to face crit­i­cism over how it col­lected pub­lic opin­ion and the way Hall dis­missed opin­ions con­trary to his own.

In an Oc­to­ber 2007 rul­ing the UARB ruled the process “deeply flawed,” lack­ing suf­fi­cient pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion. The board de­cided to main­tain 16 district seats but the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was forced to en­ter into the process again, with a re­vi­sion of district bound­aries needed be­fore the Oc­to­ber 2012 elec­tion.

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