B.C.'s new federal riding proposed to include Vernon, parts of Kelowna

New election map proposed

The proposed redistricting of B.C.’s federal electoral boundaries would see a riding added to the Thompson-Okanagan and have Penticton and Kamloops split between districts.

Canada’s constitution requires electoral boundaries to be reconfigured every decade. Last year’s census showed Kelowna to be the fastest growing large city in Canada, so an independent commission determined the Central Okanagan should host B.C.'s new riding.

The proposed new riding, called "Vernon-Lake Country," would include everything in Kelowna north and west of Highway 97 to the north end of Swan Lake in Vernon.

The "Kelowna" riding would encompass the rest of Kelowna, Joe Rich and parts of Lake Country and Oyama east of Highway 97. The riding would not include Big White Ski Resort, despite requests from resort ownership.

Big White would remain in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, the B.C. Interior’s only non-Conservative seat, held by the NDP’s Richard Cannings. That seat would see significant changes on its westernmost boundaries.

It is proposed Penticton be split into two districts, to be shared between the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding and a riding currently held by Dan Albas, proposed to be renamed "Coquihalla."

Albas’ already-large riding would get even geographically bigger, spanning from the Upper Similkameen Valley to Hope and the Lower Fraser Canyon all the way to West Kelowna and up the west side of Okanagan Lake. Logan Lake would be removed from the riding.

It is also proposed new electoral boundaries split Kamloops, using the Trans-Canada Highway and South Thompson River.

The North-Okanagan Shuswap riding would add parts of Kamloops, such as Juniper Ridge and Valleyview. The newly renamed "Kamloops-Thompson-Lytton" riding would now end at about 70 Mile House and would add Logan Lake and the Upper Fraser Canyon.

The new maps were crafted by a B.C. Court of Appeal judge and two academics.

“In fashioning this proposal for British Columbians, the commission has attempted to reduce disparities between electoral districts within the regions, influenced by the factors of historical pattern and community of interest and identity, and with voter fairness and effective representation in mind. The result has been a significant reduction in over- and under-representation,” the commission said in a statement accompanying the maps.

The proposed boundaries are just that at this point — proposed.

Public hearings on the new ridings are expected to be held in the fall and MPs will be given the chance to object in early 2023.

New boundaries will not be formally established until April 2024 at the earliest.

An interactive map of the proposed new boundaries is here.

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