AMHERST –Cumberland North is about to get a little smaller.
The riding is set to shrink under the latest recommendations from the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission. The independent commission released its revised interim report on Friday and it is suggesting transferring a large portion of the riding south and east of Amherst to Cumberland South.
If the recommendations are approved, everything south of the Nappan River – including Nappan, Maccan, Hastings and Brookdale – will become part of Cumberland South.
The previous boundary was along the Maccan River, across to Little Forks and the Stanley areas. All those areas will now be part of the neighbouring riding.
“I understand the job of the commission and can understand making some tradeoffs in Cumberland County, but I’m surprised by this and just how much of the riding could be switched,” Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar said Friday. “When it comes to accessing their MLA, a lot of these people have a five-minute drive to Amherst. Now they’re going to face a longer drive.”
Skabar said he’s also disappointed there are no public hearings scheduled for the area. The closest meeting will be in Westville next month.
Cumberland South MLA and PC Party Leader Jamie Baillie agrees with Skabar that there should be a meeting in this area, but he’s not opposed to the riding change.
“I’m through there a lot anyway as I go about my work and assuming the report stands I’m looking forward to serving these new constituents and getting around their areas as much as I can,” Baillie said.
The PC Party leader said he’s pleased with the report in that it keeps Cumberland County together. The original recommendation, delivered a few weeks ago, suggested including a portion of Colchester County in Cumberland South.
“I do see the benefit of holding Cumberland County together,” he said. “The NDP tried their best to drive seats out of rural Nova Scotia and into Halifax. The fact Cumberland County is maintaining two seats is a good thing.”
The interim report is recommending the number of MLAs will remain at 51 while three constituencies will be eliminated, including one in Cape Breton, one in northeastern Nova Scotia and one in the southwestern part of the province.
The number of voters in each electoral district in the province now falls within 25 per cent of the average number of voters.