Residents still have time to provide feedback on a series of proposed changes to provincial ridings on Vancouver Island put forward by the electoral boundaries commission.
Earlier this year, the British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission released a preliminary report recommending the creation of six new electoral districts — also called ridings — including one on Vancouver Island that would bring the total number of seats in the provincial legislature to 93 and the total number of Island seats to 15.
The proposed new riding on Vancouver Island would be called Langford-Highlands and would encompass the City of Langford and the District of Highlands.
Currently, the City of Langford is part of the Langford-Juan De Fuca riding — the home riding of outgoing Premier John Horgan — which also includes Highlands, Sooke, East Sooke and the rural area between Sooke and Port Renfrew.
Other proposed ridings would also be in areas of high population growth such as Vancouver, Burnaby, Langley, Surrey, and Kelowna, according to the report.
Boundary changes for some other Island ridings
The report also recommends changes to the boundaries of many existing electoral districts, including some of Vancouver Island.
Under the proposed changes, the Victoria West neighbourhood would become part of a renamed Esquimalt-Colwood riding because it is more “closely connected with communities west of the Gorge Waterway than with the City of Victoria,” according to the report.
Communities north of the Malahat Pass including Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay and Cobble Hill, would be moved out of the Cowichan Valley riding and placed into a newly named riding called Juan de Fuca-Malahat.
The Juan de Fuca-Malahat riding would include communities along the Strait of Juan de Fuca such as Metchosin, Sooke and Port Renfrew.
“We believe combining several smaller communities and rural areas in one electoral district is preferable to the alternative of moving part of the Juan de Fuca region into the Cowichan Valley riding,” the report states.
The Cowichan Valley riding would expand to include Chemainus in the north and its border in the south would include Cherry Point but not the area around Dougan Lake.
In the central Vancouver Island area, the three existing ridings Parksville-Qualicum, Nanaimo, and Nanaimo-North Cowichan would be renamed to Nanaimo-Oceanside, Nanaimo-Gabriola Island and Nanaimo-Ladysmith, according to the report. There would also be some changes to the boundaries.
As its name suggests, the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding would include all of the Town of Ladysmith. It would also include Cassidy, Cedar and Yellow Point, as had been the case when the riding was called Nanaimo-North Cowichan.
However, the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding would also include the area of Nanaimo between Departure Bay Road in the south and Brickyard, Rutherford and Mostar roads in the north. Previously, those areas of the city had been part of the Nanaimo riding.
“We are not proposing an exclusively North Nanaimo riding because we wanted to balance its population with the adjacent Nanaimo-Oceanside electoral district,” the report states.
The Nanaimo-Gabriola Island riding, again as its name suggests, would include all of Gabriola Island. Previously, Gabriola Island was in the Cowichan Valley riding. The riding would include downtown Nanaimo and adjacent neighbourhoods, and the Snuneymuxw First Nation communities to the south.
The Nanaimo-Oceanside riding would basically be the same as the Parksville-Qualicum riding, as it would include the communities of Parksville, Qualicum, French Creek, Nanoose Bay, Lantzville, and the neighbourhoods of Nanaimo to the west
of Brickyard, Rutherford and Mostar roads.
While some have wanted the City of Nanaimo to have its own riding, doing so would “create a riding with a population exceeding the maximum of the usual deviation range, compromising effective representation by population,” according to the report.
Other proposed changes by the commission include moving Brentwood Bay into the Saanich South riding.
The proposed changes have not been approved by politicians and the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission is accepting public feedback on their proposals until Nov. 22.
“Public input from people across the province is vital to our process,” Justice Nitya Iyer, chair of the commission, said in a press release. “We encourage anyone who has not already provided input to do so before the deadline by filling out our website survey or by writing to us directly.”
Under B.C. law, an electoral boundaries commission must be appointed after every second provincial election to review and propose changes to provincial electoral districts in the province.
Following public input, a final report on the changes must be submitted to provincial politicians by next April. Politicians would then vote on whether to accept the recommended changes.
With files from Rob Shaw/CHEK News and The Canadian Press