The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia that pulled into Nelson this week has its work cut out for it.
Change is never easy and from what the commission heard at the Best Western on Tuesday night, not too many like what the commission is proposing to do with the ridings in our region.
What we know of the current Southern Interior riding would be completely dismantled. The new Kootenay-Columbia riding would include Nelson, Harrop, Procter, Salmo, and Nakusp. Those communities would join Cranbrook and Revelstoke in electing a representative for Ottawa in future federal elections. Our current Southern Interior neighbours of Castlegar, Trail, Fruitvale, Kaslo, New Denver, Silverton, and Slocan would be tossed into the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding where they would join Penticton.
The change is not subtle and to most of those who presented before the three-person commission, it is a redrawing that makes little sense.
Take the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Area E as an example. It would be split down the middle. Voters who elect a single area director during municipal elections would now vote for different MPs. Balfour would vote with the South Okanagan-West Kootenay residents, while Harrop and Procter would be marking a ballot with those hoping to represent Kootenay-Columbia.
Rural British Columbia is too often disregarded in the hallways of power in both Victoria and Ottawa. When urban politicians look at a map, the small dots representing our population centres are surrounded by endless forest and mountains. We are easy to dismiss. But as we saw Tuesday night, there is passion for what we have here so we are just as hard to ignore.
The redrawing of the electoral map in our region is seriously flawed. The point of the commission is to listen and then make a report by this December. We can only hope they got the message that this change is not good.