People in Stratford made some suggestions Wednesday evening about how they could be better represented in the P.E.I. Legislature.
They were speaking at a public consultation by P.E.I.'s Electoral Boundaries Commission. It was the seventh of 14 meeting being held across the province.
District 6, Stratford-Kinlock, has the largest population of all 27 districts on the Island. It's 43 per cent above average, and more than double the population of the province's smallest district — District 24, Evangeline-Miscouche.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission is asking the public for input as it considers how to change the electoral map to fix the uneven population distribution.
As well as looking at just the numbers, the commission will also consider factor such as common community interests, and geographical features.
Urban vs. rural concerns
During the meeting several people, including Mayor David Dunphy, said they think there should be two electoral districts in the town of Stratford.
Dunphy himself lives in District 5, Vernon River-Stratford, which is largely rural. He doesn't think the composition of the district makes sense, since the interests of residents of Stratford could be different from those who live in rural areas that make up the rest of the district.
"I'm sure the minister, the MLA, is probably conflicted a little bit in trying to represent his constituents," said Dunphy.
Stratford resident Mike Chapman also lives in the part of town that is included in District 5, and said he would prefer to be represented by someone from Stratford.
"Rural people have totally different issues than urban people have. Rural folks are into farming, schools, the internet access … My concern is what do we do with our sewer, and I want to be represented by urban folk and not rural," said Chapman.
Preparing for future growth
In sharing his recommendation that there be two urban districts in the town of Stratford, Dunphy added the districts should start off smaller than average, in order to accommodate for future growth.
Keith MacLean, town councillor and chair of the planning committee, said the town has received applications for subdivisions.
"Stratford is going to continue to grow," said MacLean.
"If you're looking at trends, it does make sense that Stratford actually start smaller."
'Sparse' turnout at meetings
Commission chair Gerard Mitchell said attendance at the meetings so far has been "sparse."
The turnout at the Stratford meeting — about 15 people — was the second largest so far, Mitchell said. But he said he hopes more people will take an interest. Unlike in the past, the recommendation of the commission will be binding on the legislative assembly.
"It's not like in the past were there might be another forum to, if they don't like what they see, to go and have it amended or changed," he said.
"If people have concerns that they want to get before the commission, they should do it now while they still can."
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