Big changes are unlikely to be made to the boundaries of the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding.
The BC Electorial Boundaries Commission arrived in Revelstoke last week to seek feedback from the public as it makes adjustments to the province’s electoral districts.
The commission can add two electoral districts to the province; those additions will likely take place in the Lower Mainland.
For Revelstoke’s riding, the changes will be minimal, if there are any at all. Current legislation means that four ridings must be maintained in the Columbia-Kootenay area, meaning there’s not much flexibility to make changes. Those ridings are Columbia River-Revelstoke, Kootenay East, Kootenay West and Nelson-Creston.
“Realistically, if there are to be a minimum of four electoral districts in this area, we can only do so much massaging,” said commissioner Thomas Melnick. “It may be logical to move a boundary here or there if it’s of benefit to the people that live here but so far we haven’t heard any compelling reasons to do that.”
Columbia River-Revelstoke currently has a population of 32,521, which is much lower than the provincial average, but it is also the largest riding in the region geographically.
“It’s definitely not a cookie cutter process that we’re going through and if there’s variations in population from one district to another that are justifiable, that at the end of the day provide for effective representation, that’s what we’re seeking,” said commissioner Keith Archer.
Only one person came out to the Revelstoke hearing date to make a presentation — NDP member Bill MacFarlane. He told the commission that Columbia River-Revelstoke’s boundaries should remain unchanged.
“There have been five provincials elections since (1991, when the riding was formed) so I would suggest the residents are used to and comfortable with the current boundaries,” he said. “There is much in common throughout the riding with regards to economic conditions, geography and lifestyle that reflects an enjoyment of economic activity.”
The commissioners asked MacFarlane about a couple of changes they were floating — adding Nakusp to Revelstoke’s riding, or moving Kimberley into Kootenay East, with it’s neighbour Cranbrook. The goal of asking was to get feedback on those possibilities.
“By posing a question to our presenters it gives us a chance to listen to people in communities how they would see a potential shift at the margins of an electoral district,” said Archer.
The commission is currently traveling to 29 communities throughout B.C. seeking feedback on potential changes. Melnick said in places where people are happy with their ridings, turnout at the hearings has been low.
Beverly Busson, the third commissioner, said that people feel more enfranchised when they “feel more comfortable in their electoral district.”
“That’s one of the by-products of what we’re trying to achieve, is more effective representation and having people feel their anxious to exercise their rights to vote,” she said.
For more information, or to make a submission of your own, visit www.bc-ebc.ca.