N.B. municipalities concerned over division in electoral boundaries report

15 Mar 2023 | Politics | 21 |
N.B. municipalities concerned over division in electoral boundaries report

Some municipalities in New Brunswick say the new changes to the provincial electoral boundaries raises questions about effective representation.

In Fredericton, the downtown core is split down the middle, using mainly Regent Street as a divider. It goes against the proposal made by the city, which maintained the downtown plat.

The city requested four urban MLAs to represent a city bursting with growth, reaching record levels of development in the last year. The commission sliced up the city but only gave them three urban MLAs and one mostly-urban.

Fredericton mayor Kate Rogers said the city is concerned about how the downtown was cut up.

“It is concerning to divide the downtown in half because we just feel we need, if ever a time when we needed a strong voice, now is that time,” she said.

“We would have wanted a stronger city centre and south urban representation and that is what we asked for.”

Rogers said it was pleased to see Marysville remained in one piece, saying council went in very firm against any division of that part of the city’s territory.

“We will continue to be requesting additional representation in Fredericton,” she said, speaking to reporters Monday. “We would like to have four urban MLAs in the legislature.”

It isn’t the only municipality concerned about the changes.

Just down the road in New Maryland, its mayor, Judy Wilson-Shee, looks cautiously at the riding of Hanwell-New Maryland.

“Our main concern is will we still have that close communication with this MLA when we have needs or wants and want to talk,” she said on Tuesday.

Wilson-Shee said the relationship with the current MLA, Jeff Carr, has been a good one, adding the lines of communication are open and he often makes an effort to engage himself with council and its activities.

She worries that with a suburban area like Hanwell, her tiny village may get less representation, with the riding sprawling several areas — including a large rural portion of the capital region.

For her, it’s a matter of effective representation and spreading one MLA too thin.

“I’m sure it will be all the areas who will have needs and they’ll want them answered,” she said.

The Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick did ask the commission in its submission try and respect the impact the changes could have to a municipal entity.

Executive director Dan Murphy said while the organization understands some of the limitations the commission had in redrawing the boundaries, it listened to the request in some cases, and not in others.

“And to try and avoid creating ridings like they did the last time with a mix of urban, suburban and rural,” he said. “Just try to keep those communities of interest together and, you know, that was again, in certain areas was done well and other areas not so much.”

He said it will make representation difficult, adding it will advocate for its members who find themselves being negatively impacted.

“Municipalities will work with what is there, but I think there was an opportunity that was maybe missed to put those things together,” Murphy said.

Objections can be made to the commission in the next two weeks. The commission can then respond, but isn’t required to rescind any changes made to the boundaries.

Those boundaries will set the contest for the election slated for 2024.

by Global News