For a couple of years now, we’ve been calling for cuts in the size of HRM Council, which will finally …
Halifax’s new CouncilBy Trevor J. Adams | Dec 20, 2011
Tags: Halifax, HRM, municipal election, politics, URB
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has set the electoral districts for the new 16-member HRM Council, which will be elected in the municipal elections in 2012. In public consultations, HRM staff presented two possible scenarios. The URB chose a revised version of Scenario One. The new polling districts average out to 20,476 electors per district. Halifax’s core now contributes three Councillors (Peninsula South, Peninsula North and Peninsula West). The most populous districts are Peninsula West (22,392 electors), Fairview (22,266) and Peninsula North (22,064). The largest districts, in square kilometres, are Eastern Shore (3,903), South Shore (685) and and Fall River (424).
The argument in favour (which I happen to agree with) is that larger districts make for better government because Councillors must serve broad communities of interest, rather than narrowly focusing on the needs of one small area. “With a smaller Council, you get to examine the performance of Council much better,” pollster Don Mills explained when I interviewed him in our December issue. “With a smaller group you can pay more attention to what the individuals are doing. With a larger Council you can hide pretty easily and not be looked at critically. With a smaller Council, there will be a higher level of accountability on each individual Councillor … If you’re representing a larger group of people who go across community boundaries, you have to start talking at a higher level about the bigger issues. You can’t get too micro in your approach. I think that will be helpful. That should raise the quality of the debate around the election to a higher level.”
What do you think of the changes? How will they affect Halifax?