Electoral commission release final outline for districts
When the final proposed electoral boundaries for the province were revealed last week, some mayors and local service districts chairs in the current Trinity-Bay de Verde and Carbonear-Harbour Grace districts had opposing reactions.
Whiteway Mayor Craig Whelan was happy with the proposed changes, while his Carbonear counterpart George Butt Jr. was not impressed. Jennifer Hillier, chair of the Green’s Harbour local service district committee was also not happy with the new layout.
“I’m very pleased,” Whelan told The Compass. “I’ve been keeping an eye out… And they came out with a new map, basically showing that the boundary of White- way would be in the new district.”
The proposed district of Trinity-Bay de Verde would encompass from Whiteway, north to Bay de Verde and south to Bristol’s Hope.
Green’s Harbour would be the starting point for Placentia-St. Mary’s. On the southern edge of the new proposed district is its most populous municipality, Carbonear.
Mayor Butt was not as quick to support the changes.
“I don’t like them at all,” he explained. “I think the district is too big for one person.”
He believes that the intention for the government to save some $2 million cutting 48 seats to 40 will not work, because there will be a higher need to spend for travel and support staff.
“They’ll save diddly-squat,” he told The Compass.
Hillier has been a strong voice in her community encouraging people to speak out about what they wanted to see with the boundary changes. She believes her pleas fell on deaf ears.
“I tried to spread the word to the residents to understand what was happening,” she said. “I am so upset with the results. In my opinion, we no longer have a voice. We are at the end of the line and there’s no way we can compete with the population (in Placentia-St. Mary’s).”
Although several people spoke at a public forum in Whitbourne held by the commission responsible for the changes about how Cavendish, Whiteway, Green’s Harbour and Hopeall would be better suited together in the Trinity-Bay de Verde district, that did not happen.
Butt wants to see the boundaries stay the same, so a more inclusive report can be done once the census is completed next year.
“If I were a part of this process, I’d vote against it,” he said
Hillier would also like to see the boundaries stay the same, so her community would stay with Trinity-Bay de Verde.
Whelan, on the other hand, said he wouldn’t mind either way.
“I was a little bit disappointed that they never took in Green’s Harbour and Hopeall. But, my main mandate is to look out for the town here,” he explained.
If the changes do take place, two Liberal MHAs, Sam Slade and Steve Crocker, will faceoff for the new district, which is tentatively also being called Trinity-Bay de Verde.
“There’s nothing like having an MHA from your own town. We were fortunate with that for both parties — Sam and Jerome,” Butt explained.
Whelan just hopes the larger municipalities, like Carbonear and Victoria, which together have approximately 6,100 residents, won’t get the largest bulk of provincial government funding.
Meanwhile, since Crocker was elected in November last year, Whelan said he’s been approached to run for the PC nomination in the new district. But his family and work commitments are not allowing that at this point in time.
“I’m going to try and keep my priorities where they have to go,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m never going to run. In the future that could happen. Right now I have no intentions of doing so.