GUYSBOROUGH – A delegation representing stakeholders who propose to open a French language school in the area — François Rouleau, regional director for the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP), and Jude Avery, a community champion of Acadian culture —gave a presentation to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council at its regular monthly meeting on May 18.
Rouleau provided council with an overview of CSAP schools in the province and the region, highlighting the possibility of an education in the French language from pre-school to Grade 12 in the local area. He explained that a French language school in the MODG was not only possible but also desired by many who had expressed interest in such a school over recent months.
Council received the presentation positively and MODG Warden Vernon Pitts said, after council adjourned, “If we can get a French school in this area, the leg up that gives any individual coming out of school, when you can graduate school and you are fluently bilingual, how does look on your resume? I think it looks pretty good. And why shouldn’t we have one here? I can think of one-hundred reasons why we should.”
The second delegation on the council agenda that evening was a presentation on the municipal boundary review process from John Heseltine of Stantec Inc., who has undertaken the provincially required review for the MODG.
Heseltine gave a fulsome explanation to council of the two stages of the review process: the first phase consulted the public in regard to council size, the second on the number and boundaries of districts for the municipality.
After presenting the complied data from surveys and in-person consultation meetings, Heseltine told council the review recommended maintaining the council size of eight councillors and the adoption of some changes to district boundaries to increase voter parity.
Council voted to accept the recommendation except for District 8 Councillor Fin Armsworthy, who voted against the motion. He noted that he was not in favour of the new boundaries which would remove Durells Island from District 8, the former Town of Canso.
Federal electoral boundaries were another item on the Wednesday evening agenda. Under the proposed new federal electoral boundaries, the MODG would continue to be grouped with Cape Breton. Currently, the MODG falls under the Cape Breton-Canso riding, while under the new boundaries it would fall under Antigonish-Cape Breton. Discussion on the issue at the council table indicated that the MODG would prefer not to be represented in a federal riding that included Cape Breton. The consensus was that the municipality’s interests would be much better served in a riding based on the mainland, such as Central Nova.
Council passed a motion to further discuss the issue at the next committee of the whole meeting and draft a letter regarding their concerns at that time.
In other business, Councillor Mary Desmond delivered the speech she had given at a recent Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities meeting on the topic of equity, diversity and inclusion. In the speech, Desmond highlighted the positive step the MODG took in creating a designated seat for African Nova Scotians on council, the only such seat in the province, almost 30 years ago.