The City of Nelson will join the Regional District of Central Kootenay at next month’s public hearing to voice its opposition over the proposed federal electoral boundary changes.
“I think it was fairly evident tonight in our conversation that if these changes are going to be made, they take into account the connections we have between our communities — the social and economic connections that we have,” said Mayor John Dooley after Monday’s committee of the whole meeting. “Any time you fracture those politically, it can be a bit of a challenge moving forward.”
Dooley will be making a presentation at the October 2 public hearing at the Nelson’s Best Western Hotel.
Dooley said he has been working with regional district Area D director Andy Shadrack to create a “comprehensive” proposal to present to the commission.
Many of the concerns Dooley has with the proposed changes surround the division of Nelson from Trail and Castlegar.
“The first problem I see right off the bat is that it is a pretty large riding. From the Alberta border all the way to South Slocan which is just the other side of Nelson,” he said. “It’s a big area to manage for one MP. Secondly I’d have to say that putting that line the way it is with that little jog that shifts Trail and Castlegar into another riding, it’s always better if you are connected through those geographical, natural corridors that they have.
“There is no question, even in the current ridings as they sit now, they could make some adjustments and even make them better. I think that is what we would be recommending for them to look at.”
Dooley said the proposal he will make with Shadrack has the boundaries largely remaining the same except for changes at the north end of Kootenay Lake.
Regional district chair John Kettle sent a letter to the commission secretary Susan McEvoy in August voicing additional concerns to the changes.
“The Regional District of Central Kootenay is at the centre of the proposed changes,” the letter read. “We would argue that it makes little sense, if any, to break up what is currently a working local government boundary and re-create a new set of boundaries that will in fact have no logical basis for governance, economics, social status or geographic accessibility.”
According to the Federal Electoral Boundaries website, every 10 years a number of electoral districts and boundaries are revised to mirror changes in population identified by census.
A report from City of Nelson staff states the need for council to communicate the importance of social, economic and governance factors in the boundary changes.
“There is probably going to be change,” said Dooley. “This is all being triggered by introducing more MPs for British Columbia and all of a sudden the riding boundaries are changing. The Okanagan is going to have another MP so that shifts the boundary there and pushes everyone over this way. They are looking at a population base as well and the geographical area.”