Locals want changes to boundary proposals
Carbonear presenters shut down commission’s suggestions
With proposed district boundary changes making headlines across the province over the past few weeks, it is no surprise dozens of people turned out for a public hearing last Thursday to share their thoughts on the proposed changes.
The common discussion in the conference room at Fong’s Motel and Restaurant prior to the meeting focused on disappointment over the proposed boundaries provided by the all male, fivemember Newfoundland and Labrador Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission.
Victoria Coun. Glenn Clarke was the first to approach the microphone. His displeasure with the Trinity-Carbonear proposal, which will take in most of TrinityBay de Verde to Bristol’s Hope, and what he called “an attack on rural Newfoundland and Labrador.”
“I see MHA pitted against
MHA, I see friend pitted against friend, neighbour against neighbour,” Clarke stated. “I see absolutely no consideration given for the people that it most affects.”
He suggested the commission look at the past to help determine the new boundaries, using the former Carbonear district as an example. That district encompassed the north shore of Conception Bay to Carbonear. Clarke would like to see CarbonearHarbour Grace join with the north shore.
Harbour Grace Coun. Gord Stone was second to present, but noted if Harbour Grace were to join the Port de Grave district as is outlined in the proposals, Bristol’s Hope must come too. Harbour Grace is responsible for many services provided in the community.
So far, a main part of the decision for boundary execution has been population, which was confirmed by commission chair Justice Robert Stack. The population can deviate by 10 per cent of 13,550 people. Coffey told Stone adding 271 people form Bristol’s Hope to Port de Grave-Harbour Grace would push it up to 11.5 per cent above the allowable population of a district.
“I realize that if you’re just going to stick to numbers, the presentations are not going to make a whole lot of sense to the commission,” Stone explained. “We see the people as more significant as the numbers.”
Carbonear resident Al Stacey is a member of Community Linkages, an organiza- tion that aims to protect the rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of Stacey’s arguments about the changes is that there will continue to be a “plethora” of MHAs in the greater St. John’s area because the new boundaries are population based. He believes that a community may have in excess of 14,000 residents and share the same issues and values, and two MHAs to cover that same region is not as useful as having another added to rural Newfoundland.
Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore, Makinsons resident Ivy Anthony, Bay de Verde student Blake Potter and CarbonearHarbour Grace MHA Sam Slade also voiced their concerns.
Issues ranged from the importance of keeping communities together to the removal of Bay de Verde from the official district name in Trinity-Carbonear to the belief that some communities will not get equal representation.
“Our town believes we have been well represented by the district of Port de Grave,” Moore said. South River, Clarke’s Beach and Makinsons are proposed to move to the Harbour Main district.
Slade preached the need to keep Carbonear and Harbour Grace together based on shared interests.
Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore presents to the Newfoundland and Labrador Electoral Districs Boundaries Commission at Fong’s Motel and Restaurant in Carbonear on April 23.