Friday July 25, 2014





Electoral boundary changes minimal after concerns heard

Report recommends leaving two communities intact while Valemount realigned with Prince George

Valemount leaves Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, but otherwise the riding remains intact in a federal electoral boundaries report tabled in the House of Commons on Monday.

Due to population increases, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. recommends that the province acquire six new ridings, six additional MPs to boost the province’s representation in the House of Commons.

Five of those would serve new Lower Mainland ridings while a sixth would serve a new Vancouver Island riding. All of the province’s 36 existing ridings would be reconfigured in the new electoral map, yet changes to the one surrounding Kamloops are minimal.

Consistent with public comments heard during consultations last fall, the commission is not recommending that Chase be added to the riding or that 100 Mile House be included in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.

Those proposals drew resistance within the communities directly affected as well as around the TNRD board table.

“That’s excellent,” said Tim Pennell, TRND director for Wells Gray Country, when told of the recommendations. “We’ve maintained our level of input at the federal level with MPs and it’s great that they’ve listened to us.”

The changes as originally proposed by the commission were part of an effort to balance population fluctuations. Federal electoral boundaries are reviewed every 10 years with a view to representing a population of about 104,000 in each riding.

However, the commission decided that the addition of an electoral district in the Interior was not feasible on the basis of population growth.

“There were important changes from the first map in terms of commission feedback heard from the public,” said MP Cathy McLeod from Ottawa.

“There was significant concern about the isolation of 100 Mile House if Clinton were left in. They really felt their travel corridor, their referral corridor were much more aligned with this riding.”

Cariboo residents were generally opposed to the idea of being aligned with the distant Fraser Valley. To the north, Valemount and the Robson Valley are historically more aligned with McBride, part of the proposed riding of Prince George-Peace River.

By the same measure, there was resistance to removing Falkland, Chase and Sorrento from North Okanagan-Shuswap that influenced the commission’s decision to leave them grouped together.

Among other changes, the commission configures a new riding called Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, which includes Merritt and Logan Lake as well as Peachland, West Kelowna and part of the City of Kelowna.

The report must be vetted by the Commons procedures committee and could undergo modest revisions through input from MPs before it’s approved, McLeod said.





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