Public meetings coming up to review county district boundaries

Published on June 10, 2014

PICTOU – A series of public meetings will be held beginning next week to discuss municipal boundaries, but county council fears no one will show up to voice their opinion.

The Municipality of Pictou County is regulated with the province’s other municipal units to review its municipal boundaries and send in three recommendations to the Utility and Review Board.

Meetings will be held June 18 at the Toney River Community Centre, June 19 at the Eureka Fire Hall, June 25 at the Little Harbour Community Centre and June 26 at the West River Fire Department. A fifth meeting will be held at county council chambers on July 7. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

Currently, the county is comprised of 14 districts that stretch from Lorne to River John. As part of the review, council’s three recommendations are that it stay with the 14 districts, reduce by two districts or reduce it by four districts.

Brian Cullen, CAO for the Municipality of Pictou County, said by reducing the number of districts by two, it would result in a $40,000 cost savings from a $17 million budget.  Reducing the number by four would result in an $80,000 savings.

He said there would be challenges drawing new boundaries with mapping but he also said some districts have “community interest” areas that are unique to the specific area.

For example, he said, one district has two homes for special care in it while Pictou Landing Reserve is located in another district. He said it would be impossible to draw a map and break up these community interest areas so arguments have been made to keep them intact.

Coun. Scott Johnston of District 14 said he is concerned the public won’t have time to understand all of the information in the boundary review before the public meetings begin next week.

“I would like to see the councillors have input in their own districts,” he said, adding this would give Pictou County residents time to study to recommendations, speak with their own councillors and then make their opinions known at the public meetings.

Coun. Robert Parker agreed that the review is a lot of information for the public to absorb in a short period of time.

Cullen said the municipality would be doing some online promotion and flyers to get people involved in the discussion. He stressed that the information presented at the public meetings and online are only three different scenarios that will go the URB and that none of them are set in stone.