District 2 is arguably the most overlooked and ignored area in the municipality. Partially that’s due to its horrendous size making it practically difficult to govern in the same way as many of the more suburban and urban districts. But it also contains historic black communities like North Preston, who’ve had to fend off harmful stereotypes in the media recently while also dealing with a dearth of community programs and infrastructure compared to neighbouring areas.
Eligible voters: 20,321 (as of 2014)
(Up about 300 from 2012)
Past voter turnout: 38.69 percent
David Hendsbee has represented this constituency in one way or another for about 20 years now. To no great surprise, he’s playing up his political experience on the campaign trail while attacking his challengers for being “inexperienced and naïve about municipal governance.” Said challengers include African Nova Scotian Music Association board member and documentary filmmaker Shelley Fashan, retired Lake Echo bus driver Gail McQuarrie (who came in second to Hendsbee in 2012), as well as political rookie and hospital registration clerk Sydnee McKay.
There’s a lot at play in this largely rural district, particularly for some communities that have historically been ignored by the people supposed to be representing them in government. Let’s start with the proposed construction and demolition waste facility in Lake Echo. That’s been strongly opposed by area residents and hasn’t won Hendsbee a lot of love. CBC reports the councillor recently sent an email to the province suggesting Nova Scotia help out the property owner, Kiann Management, by buying the land for approximately $200,000. Fashan is against the construction and debris dump, and has been vocal in campaigning against it. Additionally, in North and East Preston there is a longstanding fight for residents to claim their land titles. Many African-Nova Scotians families in the area have lived on their property for centuries but don’t legally hold title to the land. In February, Hendsbee told The Coast this is a reason why “a lot of the young families in the community have been moving out.” Water is another issue, as most (if not all) people in this district drink from wells. Clean and accessible drinking water is an election priority for MacKay, pointing to this summer’s hot weather drying up Eastern Shore wells as an example. Although these issues are largely provincial matters, they do illustrate how District 2 has been sometimes left behind—silenced, even—in the halls of government. Whoever claims the title of district councillor this election needs to prioritize working with all levels of government to give these neglected communities a strong voice at the table.
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