British Columbia’s Electoral Boundaries Commission has released a preliminary report that recommends the creation of six new electoral districts, which would bring the total number of seats in the legislature to 93.
Initially a Vernon-Lake Country district was proposed, but the latest report sticks with boundaries similiar to the existing Vernon-Monashee and Kelowna-Lake Country districts. It instead proposes an additional Kelowna riding due the area “growing at nearly twice the provincial average.”
The commission proposes a Kelowna Centre district including downtown.
“Residents of downtown Kelowna told us they found it confusing and inappropriate for them to vote in Kelowna West,” the report reads.
The boundary of Kelowna West would go down the centre of Okanagan Lake, removing the downtown.
“We believe that the population density and projected growth of downtown Kelowna justify creating a new electoral district for this area.”
The commission proposes to move Peachland from the Penticton-Summerland riding and into a West Kelowna-Peachland riding.
For the Vernon-Monashee district, the commission proposes moving Beachcomber Bay, Okanagan Landing and east Bella Vista highlands into Kelowna-Lake Country.
“This reduces the population of Vernon-Monashee, bringing it in line with that of Kelowna-Lake Country.
For Salmon Arm-Shuswap, the proposal is to reduce the size by moving a portion of north Shuswap Lake and Seymour Arm to the Kamloops-North Shuswap district. The Shuswap riding would retain Enderby, Armstrong, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.
A statement from Justice Nitya Iyer, chair of the commission, says the recommendation is a response to B.C.’s population growing by more than 300,000 people over the last five years.
Iyer says members of the commission travelled throughout the province for input on electoral boundaries, holding 50 public meetings in 43 communities and receiving more than 1,300 submissions before they began deliberating.
The report recommends adjustments to the boundaries of 71 electoral districts based on geographic, demographic and other considerations.
A final round of public consultations is now underway and set to close Nov. 22, and the commission says it will consider amending its recommendations based on public input before releasing its final report next April.
The Legislative Assembly will then decide whether to accept all, some or none of the commission’s recommendations.
- with files from Canadian Press