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No change to northern ridings, provincial election boundaries commission recommends

Six seats could be added in the far more populous south
Northern B.C. will keep its six ridings in the provincial legislature, a boundaries commission recommends. (Image courtesy the University of Northern British Columbia)

There won’t be any changes to the boundaries of the six provincial electoral ridings in the north but some names of the ridings should change, an electoral boundaries commission has recommended.

In a report released this month, the commission acknowledged that five of the ridings are so very sparsely populated they fall below the range of what is normally wanted.

And while the commission could reduce the number of northern ridings to bring populations closer to the numbers in ridings elsewhere, it decided against that measure.

“We considered the location of communities, geographic feature, transportation corridors and communications in each of the existing electoral districts and the consequences of altering their boundaries to reduce the number of ridings,” the commission wrote.

“We concluded that any changes to the existing boundaries of these electoral districts would deprive affected residents of effective representation.”

In more detailed comments, the commission said it suggested combining the North Coast riding which contains Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii primarily with Skeena which contains Kitimat, Terrace and the Nass Valley.

“But that would have compounded the accessibility challenges caused by the vast geography of a combined riding,” the commission concluded.

The commission has suggested the riding of Stikine be changed to Bulkley Valley-Stikine for a better geographic description of the riding’s location. It felt the same way about changing the North Coast riding to North Coast-Haida Gwaii.

The names of the Skeena, Nechako Lakes, Peace River South and Peace River North ridings should stay the same.

Overall, the commission has recommended adding six ridings in southern B.C. to reflect increases in population, boosting the number of seats in the provincial legislature from 87 to 93.

Burnaby, Langley, Surrey and Vancouver would each get a riding while one would be added in the Victoria suburb of Langford and one in the central Okanagan.

The commission bases its work on the principle of representation by population so that one person’s vote should carry the same weight as another person’s vote regardless of location within the province.

But it also recognizes that geography and population distribution around the province will affect the principle of representation by population. And that allows ridings such as the six in the north to have far fewer people than elsewhere.

Provincial legislation requires that a commission be established after every two provincial elections to consider population increases or decreases and what that could mean to the number of ridings.

The commission’s report will now be considered by the provincial legislature.

About the Author: Rod Link

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