Proposed boundary change overly zealous

"Local citizens... are justifiably irate at the proposal to slash Greater Trail in two for the purpose of federal representation."

Local citizens who bother to contemplate such matters are justifiably irate at the proposal to slash Greater Trail in two for the purpose of federal representation.

While this community has been bounced around among various ridings in recent decades – and the constituencies themselves kneaded, stretched and pounded like so much raw dough by successive electoral boundaries commissions –  never have local voters faced such a drastic change.

The commission is proposing that the Beaver Valley be included in the massive Kootenay-Columbia riding that would stretch all the way to the Alberta border and north to include Revelstoke and Golden.

The remainder of the vague-sounding B.C. Southern Interior riding that includes Trail and Rossland and much of the rest of the West Kootenay would disappear into a new one called South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

On the west, this riding would include Penticton but stop at Keremeos rather than the east gate of Manning Park, as does MP Alex Atamanenko’s Southern Interior riding. This would make for less driving for the MP and a greater community of interest, as Penticton has more in common with the southern Okanagan than Princeton does.

But in our area, community is out the window. Teck or hospital workers talking politics over the lunch table will be voting in different constituencies, and the federal concerns of the greater community will have to be taken up with two different MPs.

Although not a consideration for the boundaries commission, the change would also affect the political make-up of what used to be the Southern Interior due to the addition of a major community from the more conservative-minded Okanagan.

What does seem to be driving the commission is an overly-zealous interpretation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. This legislation requires that electoral boundaries be adjusted every decade in light of new census data, with the goal of maintaining some semblance of representation by population.

But vastly differing rates of population growth across Canada combined with Constitutional barriers to real change make the adjustments made each decade by the 10 provincial commissions a mugs’ game. A comparison of the proposed S.O.-W.K. riding to the province of Prince Edward Island is a good indication of how much representation by population we have in this country.

P.E.I. has 140,000 citizens scattered over 5,700 square kilometres and four federal seats. The single Southern Okanagan-West Kootenay riding would have 115,000 residents in an area more than three times that of P.E.I. The number of seats allocated to the island paradise has not changed since 1915 and can only be reduced with the consent of the province, which is as likely as Quebec supporting an increase in the powers of the monarch.

Within each province, the commissions are required by law to strive for some semblance of representation by population, although they have a fair degree of latitude so that boundaries can reflect “communities of interest” and geographic realities.

The B.C. commission, headed by a provincial appeals court justice, was required this time out to aim for riding populations of 105,000, plus or minus 25 per cent. In extraordinary circumstances the fudge factor can be even greater.

Fast-growing urban ridings have tended to have more residents than rural ones, but the current redistribution would make the two local constituencies, with populations of 115,000 and 109,000, larger almost all of those in the Lower Mainland, where most ridings would be in the 95,000 to 105,000 range. In fact, the South Okanagan-West Kootenay would be the largest riding in the province in terms of population.

Local politicians should stop harping about having to drive to Castlegar to attend one of the hearings the commission has scheduled around the province. In terms of consultative sittings, this region is over represented with sessions planned for Castlegar and Nelson, while the Okanagan and East Kootenay will only have one sitting apiece.

These sessions are not public meetings. Only those who registered in advance can present to the commissioners and anyone motivated enough to do that won’t be deterred by the drive to Castlegar.

Local municipal councils should instead be focused on honing their arguments as to why this distribution should not go ahead as proposed.

•••

While motoring along Victoria Street the other day, I witnessed what may have been a new low in local driving. The slow lane between Cedar and Bay was filled with several dozen members of a cycling club headed toward the bridge.

Rather than waiting in the passing lane for them to get by so he could make a right turn at Bay, the driver in front of me, abruptly and without warning, simply swerved into them, scattering but miraculously not hitting any of the cyclists.

Miracles, it seems, can happen. Now if only the low end of the driver pool would miraculously improve its skills and gain some common sense.

Raymond Masleck is a retired Trail Times reporter

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

Waneta Manor is located on Laburnum Drive in Trail. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Senior dies as Trail tenants continue wait for broken elevator to be fixed

The elevator in Waneta Manor has been out of commission since February

For Your Consideration
Brokeback Facebook: I wish I knew how to quit you!

Thom is inspired by the proliferation of viral inane questions to reevaluate his social media use

The author during GoByBike Week. Taking a break from all that high-flying on the Isador Canyon Trail. Photo: Christina Blaskovich
The auto and the bike: A paean to them both

One becomes an extension of one’s self. The other offers the sensation of flight.

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read