Proposed ridings may prompt debate in Abbotsford, Langley, and Hope
Suggested boundaries would put Sumas Prairie in a Chilliwack riding, Abbotsford International Airport in a Langley riding, and Hope with West Kelowna.
Proposed new federal ridings would take a cleaver to current electoral divisions and seem likely to prompt significant debate and discussion in Abbotsford, Langley and Hope.
A non-partisan commission is in charge of redrawing BC’s electoral map to make room for one extra federal seat to account for growing and shifting populations. We reported in January on the region’s historically shifting provincial electoral boundaries and the challenges in trying to account for population changes while trying to keep communities within the same ridings. Read that story here: The Fraser Valley’s shifting boundaries.
On Monday, the commission released its proposed changes for the federal ridings, and the redrawn map may lead to plenty of raised eyebrows, with Sumas Prairie in a Chilliwack riding, Abbotsford International Airport in a Langley riding, and Walnut Grove lumped in with Pitt Meadows.
In Abbotsford, residents in Huntingdon and on Sumas Prairie would be included in the Chilliwack riding, while the tens of thousands of people who live near HighStreet Shopping Centre would be in a shifted Langley-Aldergrove riding.
Langley would be split into three different ridings. The present Cloverdale-Langley City riding would remain similar to its current formation, with Langley City and a slice of the Township west of 200th Street lumped in with Cloverdale. But the current Langley/Aldergrove riding would be split in two. In the north, Fort Langley and Walnut Grove would be combined with Pitt Meadows and portions of Maple Ridge into a new riding. In the south, the reconstituted Langley-Aldergrove riding would sprawl east, to the Fraser River, Bradner, and Abbotsford International Airport.
Mission would get its wish fulfilled to have the entire municipality in a single riding. The Mission-Maple Ridge riding would include the eastern portion of Maple Ridge and all of Mission, Kent, and Harrison Hot Springs.
Chilliwack voters would remain in a single riding, though it would be much enlarged geographically, ranging from the University of the Fraser Valley and the Huntingdon border crossing in Abbotsford to the western bits of Hope.
And most voters in Hope might be in for a shock. The proposed ridings would leave the western rural portions of the town (essentially, all inhabited areas west of the Highway 1 & 5 junction) in the same riding as Chilliwack. But the bulk of the Township would be included in a mega-riding that is likely to be one of the most controversial components of the commission’s proposal. (And thus, maybe, the most likely to change.) The proposed Coquihalla riding would include a massive swath of southern British Columbia.
The bulk of its residents would live in West Kelowna and the western half of Penticton. But the riding also would include Merritt, Boston Bar, and Hope.
Along with the proposed boundaries, the commission laid out some of the reasoning behind their proposal and spent considerable time explaining its decision to include the Fraser Canyon with the Okanagan communities.
The commission declared: “We consider that the Fraser Canyon and Hope have the location, character and history necessary to fit with electoral districts in the Southern Interior … we are proposing that Hope join with communities up to the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser rivers and with Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola in an electoral district newly configured and named Coquihalla, uniting the three key transportation corridors of British Columbia.”
The proposal is still just a proposal though. The commission will hold a series of meetings over several months, starting in June. The commission will be in the Fraser Valley in mid-September, with meetings scheduled for Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Langley. You can see the details here.