After a commission released proposals for reconfigured ridings ahead of the next provincial election, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone finds himself at a loss for words over the recommendations.
“I like to use the word, when I really can’t explain it, gobsmacked by the recommendations that have come forward,” Stone told CHEK News Tuesday, reacting to the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s proposed changes.
Currently, Ladysmith is part of the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding. However, the proposed change would remove southern Nanaimo from the riding and extend the riding around the west, ultimately including Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
Stone is concerned about the lack of continuity and connection the new boundaries create.
He highlighted Ladysmith’s historical ties to Nanaimo, describing the town as “a child of Nanaimo, an offshoot of the early years of Nanaimo and the foundation of our community.”
The proposed riding would be separated by two new ridings in Nanaimo: Nanaimo-Gabriola Island and Nanaimo-Lantzville.
Current Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker believes the changes could be beneficial, as they would allow Nanaimo to have the representation of two MLAs and Courtenay to have one MLA.
He said, “I think it’s really important as a constituent MLA to be able to truly represent your community, and I think that the boundary commission did the best they could to make that work.”
However, some voters have expressed their doubts about the proposed changes.
One resident pointed out the oddity of the new boundaries, stating, “I think the changes are kind of odd because they excluded Nanaimo, and we live right beside Nanaimo and so does Ladysmith.”
The Ladysmith proposal is just one of several put forth by the Electoral Boundaries Commission Tuesday, which is suggesting to increase the number of ridings to 93 up from 87 and adjust boundaries of 72 other districts, including changing the names of 41 ridings.
Members of the legislature will vote on whether to accept all, some or none of the recommendations.