Directors at the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) are urging constituents to get-in-the-know about planned changes to federal electoral district boundaries.
Furthermore, the board is asking all residents to take immediate action — before March 6 — in response to Election Canada’s move to redistribute RDKB federal electoral district boundaries, describing the changes as radical.
What’s being proposed is to remove all of the Beaver Valley — Area A and the villages of Montrose and Fruitvale — from the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, which in the East End, includes Trail, Warfield, Rossland and Area B.
“It’s extremely concerning that a second draft of the federal boundary review has only just been released and is such a radical departure from what was initially presented at the one public hearing held in Cranbrook,” explains Ali Grieve, seasoned director for Area A.
She is one of many voicing vehement opposition.
“Now there is no opportunity for public input which is unacceptable,” Grieve stresses.
“We need to send a clear, strong united message: These changes? No way!”
The question is, “If Beaver Valley is removed from the West Kootenay federal riding, where will it go?”
According the second draft of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission review, the Beaver Valley would join with the East Kootenay/Rockies Region riding to form the reconfigured federal electoral district of Columbia – Kootenay – Southern Rockies.
“The commissioner has not considered the needs of our constituents who share a community of interest and identity with our RDKB neighbours,” says Steve Morissette, Mayor of Fruitvale.
Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh points out that, historically, the Beaver Valley has always been part of the West Kootenay, not divided from it.
“Why would we want to change the status quo that has worked so well for us?” adds Walsh.
Area E/West Boundary-Big White would also be impacted by the proposed changes.
Most of the Highway 33 corridor from Kelowna to the south of Beaverdell would become part of the newly named Okanagan Lake West – South Kelowna federal electoral district.
“The realignment of boundaries strips the RDKB of its identity, splits the region, aligns us with areas that have different social, cultural and economic concerns and imposes a federal political divide within our regional district which would only serve to weaken our voice,” emphasizes Linda Worley, RDKB board chair, noting RDKB elected officials are strongly opposing these recent changes.
“MP Richard Cannings will soon file an objection with the House of Commons but needs your voice, our voice, to add to it.”
To voice opposition to this realignment, the regional district urges all RDKB residents to email Richard Cannings, MP for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, before March 6 at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cannings can take written objections to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee.
In the email, letter writers must include where they live, and the RDKB states, “that you strongly oppose the proposed change to your Federal Electoral Boundaries as your Community of Interest and Identity have always been with the West Kootenay/Boundary region.”
“Please stop this change where no public input was provided,” the RDKB emphasizes.
The RDKB is made up of 13 member communities — eight municipalities and five electoral areas — whose elected representatives come together at a board table to made collective decisions for the betterment of the Kootenay Boundary.
The population across the Kootenay Boundary sits at 31,000+.
“Historically, the whole of the RDKB has been in the same federal electoral district,” explains Area E Director Sharen Gibbs.
“And our collective advocacy has been a strong and effective one when we’ve had to lobby our MP on issues of regional concern.”
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