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Proposed changes to the federal electoral boundaries sever Mission from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, but add a sliver of Port Coquitlam to the riding.
The non-partisan Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. has proposed a new federal electoral map, adding six new districts, for consideration at public hearings this fall.
The changes would result in the Lower Mainland holding 26 of British Columbia’s 42 ridings, up from the current 21 of 36.
Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and an area of Port Coquitlam south of Lougheed Highway would get its own riding called “Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge” (population: 96,956).
The cutoff for that riding would be 240th Street in Maple Ridge. Everything east of that would fall into the new riding of “Mission-Matsqui,” which also includes the northern part Abbotsford.
“While consideration was given to the province as a whole, it soon became apparent that certain areas of substantial population growth would require the most concentrated attention,” the commission said in a preliminary report, which cites growth in Surrey and the Fraser Valley as “explosive.”
“I’m sure we will get input from people who are in political parties and people who are interested in the process,” said commission chair John Hall, a Court of Appeal judge.
“It’s good to have as wide a range. This is just a starting point and we want to hear from people as to what their opinions are.”
Under the proposed changes, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge would encompasses part of Port Coquitlam from the Pitt River Bridge to Shaughnessy Street, which now falls in the existing riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, currently represented by Conservative member of parliament James Moore.
Canada’s electoral districts are reviewed every 10 years by independent commissions in each province to account for shifts and growth in the population. These reviews consider population numbers – as captured in the federal census – as well as factors such as communities of interest or identity, and history and geography.
Hall said the proposed boundaries were drawn roughly within the ideal limit of 104,000 people per riding and do not favour one political party over another.
“In some ridings it might be good for the opposition, and in some ridings it might be good for the governing party,” noted Hall. “There’s a riding in Vancouver that’s brand new and I don’t know which way that would go.”
Randy Kamp, MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, had no comment about the proposed changes.
His New Democratic Party rival, however, has been closely watching the changes.
“I’m sure the redistribution will benefit the Tories,” said Craig Speirs, who ran against Kamp in the last federal election.
“It’s supposed to be non-partisan. I don’t think it hurts the NDP greatly.”
The local NDP riding association will look at the proposed changes and comment during the public hearing process.
Speirs believes ridings don’t make much of a difference in federal election, where most people focus on who is going to be prime minister.
“The dividing lines don’t mean much,” said Speirs.
“You can run probably anybody in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission and elect a Tory. It has very little to do with the candidate.”
After the public’s views are considered, the commission will submit a report to the House of Commons, where MPs will provide feedback that will then be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
The report is expected by the end of the year. The next general election is set for 2015.
• A public hearing on the proposed boundary changes will take place in Maple Ridge at the municipal hall, 11995 Haney Place on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 at 7 p.m.
• The commission suggests adding an additional seat in Vancouver, taking parts of all five of the city’s current ridings to create “Vancouver-Granville” in the centre.
• Due to growth on the North Shore, the commission has proposed combining North Vancouver neighbourhoods east of the Second Narrows Bridge with northern Burnaby to create the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour.
• The area between Surrey and Abbotsford would get an additional seat, with one riding for Cloverdale and Langley City and one for the Township of Langley and Aldergrove.
• Delta, currently split between Richmond and Surrey, would get its own riding.
• Vancouver Island goes from six ridings to seven ridings. The commission has proposed the addition of one seat in the southern region of Vancouver Island, to be named South Cowichan-Juan de Fuca.
Liberals from Pitt Meadows to Mission have a new president to run the riding association.
Cory Cassel was recently chosen as president of the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission riding at the party’s annual meeting.
Cassel succeeds Brian Rice as president.
Rice, in turn, was named president of the B.C. branch of the Liberal Party in Canada.
In a release, Cassel said his focus is to build community and support for the Liberals in the riding, which could see its boundaries changed.
Joining Cassel on his riding association board are vice-president John Caldwell; secretary Bob Gray; treasurer Alex Pope; policy chair Tony Kuhlman; membership chair Carol Stengert and communications chair Rick Rake.
The first major event organized by the team is the Women in Politics forum at Heritage Park Cafetorium in Mission on July 5 at 7 p.m. Cost is $10.