Chamber Hosts BC Electoral Boundaries Commission
MLA Encourages Voters Review Current Boundaries, Voice their Opinions
If you were planning a road trip by plotting your route on a map, you might choose the most direct roads to reach your desired destinations. But designating what path to take to form an electorate is much more challenging.
An independent and non-partisan three-person panel visited the South Kootenay region this month to hear from the business community at the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Trail.
The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission is reviewing the area, boundaries, and names of BC’s electoral districts to ensure effective representation, a process that takes place after every second provincial election. Currently, there are 87 electoral districts in BC; legislation allows for up to six new electoral districts to be added as part of the review.
“We learned a lot from our meeting with the commissioners,” says Executive Director Erika Krest, who acknowledges that government policy absolutely affects the business community. “We voiced our thoughts and we’re curious to see what recommendations will come from the public through this process.”
The Commission considers representation by population and factors in geography, demographics, means of communication and transportation, the protection of communities of interest, and special circumstances. After analyzing this data, it also considers public feedback before developing its proposals and making recommendations, which are publicized through a preliminary report to the legislative assembly in the fall.
“What’s important is to ensure that people have a voice in Victoria,” explains Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy. “This process needs to be independent, and that’s really critical. I think it’s important for the people to speak out, as opposed to the politicians, although we’ll get our chance once the Commission submits their first round of input.”
The last time the electoral boundaries were reviewed seven years ago, Kootenay West, which includes Trail, Rossland, Fruitvale, Castlegar, Nakusp and many other communities, remained untouched. Still, leading up to a potential change can be unsettling, says Conroy.
“It can be somewhat nerve-wracking, especially for a politician, because when you represent an area, you get to know everybody, and then all of a sudden there are changes,” she adds. “I hope that people engage with the process and that the rural constituencies are preserved. I want to continue to represent the same incredible Kootenay West communities.”
Averaging the population in larger centres is a fairly straightforward task, but for rural BC, geography can be a more significant consideration. The South Kootenay has its own geographical challenges, as it is situated away from the beaten path, which the Chamber recognizes.
“We consider it critical to provide our business community with any chance to have its voice heard,” says Krest. “That’s why hosting the Commission’s town hall meeting was too important an opportunity to pass up.”
Conroy echoes the sentiment, affirming that it’s essential for all voters to share their opinions.
“Every community is unique. I would never say we’re homogenized because they’re all different in their own way, but there is a real down-to-earth sentiment I get from Kootenay West people,” she adds. “Even when they disagree with you, you can bet you’ll have a good conversation.”
Individuals and organizations who missed the opportunity to attend the recent in-person meeting or the virtual public meeting can complete a survey on the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission website or contact the Commission directly. The deadline for public input to inform the preliminary report is May 31, 2022. Visit the Commission website to review maps and resources and learn more about the Commission’s process.
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