North, south, east and west — representatives of a federal electoral boundary commission were tugged each direction Thursday.
The three-member Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. made stop No. 19 in a community tour of the province.
Its task — to accommodate population growth — is to redraw electoral maps to add six more federal ridings to the 36 in B.C. today.
The commission was urged to revise its first-draft proposal that would remove most of 100 Mile House, along with parts of the South Cariboo, from this riding and place them in a Chilliwack-based region. In place of those Cariboo communities the commission has proposed to add the village of Chase to the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding.
But several representatives from 100 Mile House said they’ll be forgotten if they’re tagged on to Chillwack-Fraser Canyon. They urged the commission to keep the South Cariboo in with Kamloops.
“Kamloops is the South Cariboo’s service centre,” said Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin. “To take us and to put us in Chilliwack . . . . there are times you aren’t going to get through the canyon when the weather’s bad.”
Spence Henderson, a councillor from the municipality of 100 Mile House, said he was representing the South Cariboo in opposition to the commission’s proposed change.
“What does 100 Mile House have to do with Chilliwack? Different school districts, universities, highways, regional districts, health authorities, forest districts — you name it, we’re different.”
For MPs who must travel without overnighting, Kamloops is a one-day trip, Henderson said.
While the Southern Interior has grown, the bulk of B.C. population growth is in Metro Vancouver, where the new ridings are to be added. Commissioner Stewart Ladyman said during introductory remarks the southern Interior’s population has yet to grow enough to add another MP.
Local resident Dennis Piva suggested a radical redrawing that would split Kamloops in half, giving it two MPs representing large constituencies that would include regional trading areas.
He noted both Prince George and Kelowna have two MPs.
“It (one MP) puts us at a disadvantage in terms of numbers. I think two is better than one.”
Under the current proposal, Kamloops is the fourth largest riding by population in B.C. — giving voters here some of the weakest ballot power in B.C.