Province plans to review electoral boundaries

Kootenay West could be on the table for changes as deliberations begin assessing provincial electoral boundaries.

The three members of the Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) will soon begin deliberations on potential changes to provincial ridings, and Kootenay West could be on the table for changes.

The local riding has already been altered by the EBC twice; in 2001 when the ridng was changed from its original Rossland-Trail name and boundaries to West Kootenay-Boundary, then again in 2008 when it became its current configuration of Kootenay West.

The provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission Act requires that a new EBC be established after every two elections, with the last struck in 2008 when the number of ridings, and consequently Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) rose from 79 to the current 85.

In this round the EBC has the option of adding another two ridings, bringing the total to 87.

“Every eight years an independent Electoral Boundaries Commission reviews B.C.’s electoral district boundaries and names,” Andrew Watson, communications coordinator for Elections B.C., said in an email. “This is to ensure that each Member of the Legislature represents about the same number of people (representation by population).”

However, the EBC recognizes that, in a province like B.C., with large tracts of sparsely populated country, simply drawing boundaries on a map could potentially leave some people with very limited access to their MLA, and subsequently without adequate representation.

Population considerations can be a concern for regions like the Kootenays, where there has been a relatively consistent decrease in the population over the past few decades, which could, potentially, threaten residents with the elimination of ridings and less representation in Victoria.

“Per the EBC Act, the Commission establishes electoral district boundaries based on the principle of representation by population, while recognizing that geography, demographics, history, and community interests may not allow for exactly equal populations in every electoral district in the province,” said Watson. “For this reason the commission may establish districts with populations 25 per cent above or below the provincial average. The commission may deviate from this principle if ‘very special circumstances’ exist.”

However, recent amendments to the Act require that no reduction in the number of districts can occur in the Kootenay-Columbia region or in two other regions, the North and Cariboo-Thompson.

In only these three regions in the province the commission does not need to find that “very special” circumstances exist in order to go beyond the 25 per cent population deviation rule. But, the boundaries of the individual districts within these regions can be altered to try to balance the population of the districts across the regions.

“We spoke against the bill,” said Katrine Conroy, NDP MLA for Kootenay West. “We definitely believe in rural representation but this amendment protected seats like Prince George and Kamloops, I hardly consider those to be rural seats. We should let the commission be independent. This is just another example of the Liberals doing what they want with, supposedly, independent commissions. Manipulation of the process before the process has even begun.  ”

The latest EBC, formed just last week, includes, as chair of the panel, Justice Thomas Melnick, a justice of the Supreme Court of B.C., who has been serving as Supreme Court Justice in Cranbrook since 1990. The two other appointees are Beverly Busson, a former commissioner of the RCMP, and Dr. Keith Archer, B.C.’s chief electoral officer.

The new commission will be meeting in the near future for discussion and to develop a work plan, public hearings schedule, and website for public information.

Just Posted

Photo: Trail Times
Trail RCMP start June by nabbing impaired drivers

Latest brief from the Trail and Greater District police

“This is very costly to replace and it seems that Rossland is getting more and more theft and vandalism happening, which is really unfortunate,” says the commission’s Michelle Fairbanks. Photo: Submitted
Two plaques stolen from Rossland heritage square

The plaques were located at Washington and Columbia by the Olaus statue

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also… Continue reading

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read