Welcome to the evanescent North.
For those unfamiliar with the term, it means soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.
This is effectively what the provincial electoral boundaries commission is doing to us with its recommendations in the final report on redrawing boundaries for the next election.
The commission recommends the North keeps our current six ridings, but also wants to add six in the much more populated southern part of the province, specifically in Burnaby, Langley, Surrey, Vancouver, Langford and central Okanagan. That would increase the size of the provincial legislature to 93 seats.
Keeping the same number of northern ridings and increasing the number of southern ones diminishes our representation in the legislature.
We acknowledge this is a tricky situation. The intention of the commission is to configure the boundaries so every person’s vote carries the same weight as every other person’s regardless of location.
To do this, boundaries commissions try to keep each riding pretty close to a mean value or “electoral quotient.” For the proposed 93 ridings that quotient is 53,773 people, much greater than any of our northern ridings.
It is a noble principle, but one that does not really work in practice because of other factors, such as population density. The sheer size of northern ridings and the sparsity of residents makes it extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible, to provide effective representation.
That is why legislation allows for variances from the mean of 25 per cent. It also allows for even greater variances for extreme circumstances.
Perhaps it is a little too much to ask to further stretch the variances for our northern ridings even further to improve our representation.
It should not be too much to ask, however, that the government finally do the right thing and give us the revenue-sharing northwestern towns and regional districts have been fighting for and deserve.