Back to the drawing board
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.