Political riding boundaries are reviewed every 10 years and the changes can be significant, depending on where you live.
Here in the southern Interior, we will get one new electoral district (often referred to as a riding), which, to accommodate the new riding, would have a domino effect as the non-partisan federal B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission has recommended significant riding boundary adjustments.
After extensive hearings, the commission is recommending extensive revisions to Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, the riding I represent. This riding would be essentially split into geographical regions that will end up in five different ridings, assuming the changes are adopted.
Given the status of our minority Parliament, we do not know exactly when our next federal election will be. While Canada has a fixed-date election law that says the next scheduled election must occur on or before Oct. 20, 2025, this does not stop a prime minister from calling a snap election, as we saw in 2021.
If there is a snap election, the existing riding boundaries will be in effect. If it occurs after spring 2024, the new boundaries would take effect.
One of the most significant changes is communities such as Merritt and Logan Lake would be located in a proposed riding called “Kamloops-Thompson-Nicola,” which, as the name implies, would include part of Kamloops.
Another significant change is communities such as Princeton, Keremeos, Cawston and Hedley would join the proposed riding of “Similkameen-West Kootenay,” which would also include the City of Penticton, as well as the Penticton Indian Band.
What remains of my existing riding – the communities of Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and parts of Kelowna would become part of a new riding to be called “Okanagan Lake West–South Kelowna.”
The existing Kelowna boundaries would be moved further south to include all of south Kelowna, such as Okanagan Mission. The boundary would extend east, as far as the area around the McCulloch reservoir.
For Kelowna residents, the new proposed riding to be called “Kelowna” would include a much larger area of the City of Kelowna, including an eastern portion that also consists of the Big White ski resort area. This riding would no longer have the communities of Lake Country or Okanagan Centre, which would join a new riding called "Vernon Monashee."
In addition to this column, my office has arranged a separate mail out with a map for each affected region (Okanagan, Similkameen and Nicola Valleys) so the residents I represent can review this proposal in more detail.
It is challenging for the federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to balance population growth with the input of many community considerations.
This second report proposal is significantly different from the first draft proposal submitted last fall, mainly because the commission listened to, and attempted to accommodate, many of the concerns it heard.
On the same theme, I sincerely thank the commissioners and staff for all their work in submitting this report. I would also like to thank those who took the time to participate.
In my view, federal elected officials should avoid directly commenting on these changes to avoid any perception of attempting to influence boundary changes that may either enhance or work against partisan political interests.
I believe it is crucial for both local and regional government representatives and local residents to be aware of the proposed changes and consider the accessibility of current electoral boundaries compared to what is proposed.
My question this week is:
Are you satisfied with these proposed changes?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.