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Municipal Law - Municipalities - Reconstituting - Altering boundaries

Thursday, September 08, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by the Municipality of West Hants (Municipality) from a decision of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (Board) which fixed the electoral boundaries to be effective for the October 2016 municipal elections. The Municipality undertook a required boundary review of proposed electoral districts. The boundary hearing review was adjourned pending an application by the Town of Hantsport for dissolution of the Town. Hantsport was dissolved and joined with the Municipality. The Municipality then filed its boundary review application and requested that the Board implement the recommendations of its consultant by incorporating the former Town into an electoral district with geographically proximate communities. The Board refused to implement the recommendations. Instead, the Board added an additional electoral district for the former Town, which resulted in the Municipality having 10 councillors rather than the recommended nine. The Municipality appealed the Board’s decision, arguing that it was unreasonable because creating an electoral district for the former Town resulted in a voter variance that was inconsistent with guidelines established by the Board in the past, it failed to follow the process set out by the Board panel that originally considered the Town’s dissolution application, and it failed to consider the Municipality’s application and the consultant’s report.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. There was evidence before the Board that supported its conclusion that there was a strong community of interest in the former Town, which was a conclusion with which the Court could not interfere. The Board considered its own guidelines and the consultant’s report. In the end, it decided that the Municipal council and the consultant’s report did not adequately taken into account the former Town’s community of interest and found that the former Town should have its own councillor. It was not an error of law for it to do so.