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.
The commission says the proposed ridings would be in “areas of rapid population growth,” specifically Vancouver, Burnaby, Langley, Surrey and Kelowna, along with Langford on Vancouver Island.
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 also recommends adjustments to the boundaries of 71 electoral districts based on geographic, demographic and other considerations.
In Nanaimo, there would be some tweaking and re-naming of the three provincial ridings; the most notable change would be Gabriola Island moving to Nanaimo’s central riding, which would become known as Nanaimo-Gabriola Island. The report noted that the addition of Gabriola to the riding is proposed “because its access to Vancouver Island is through downtown Nanaimo.”
A group called Gabriola Islanders Concerned about Electoral Boundaries issued a press release earlier this month indicating it’s in favour of the change with constituents on Gabriola “moving back where we belong.”
The ridings adjacent to Nanaimo-Gabriola Island would also see name changes. The Parksville-Qualicum riding would be re-named Nanaimo-Oceanside, with no changes to riding boundaries, and the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding would become Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
“Some residents suggested that the City of Nanaimo should 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,” the report noted.“Instead, we propose adjusting the boundaries of the three existing Nanaimo ridings to better balance their populations.”
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.
B.C.’s Legislative Assembly will then decide whether to accept all, some or none of the commission’s recommendations.
Public hearings on the electoral boundaries report include a virtual hearing Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. and an in-person hearing at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. For more information, visit www.bcebc.ca.
The full report is available for viewing here.