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Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows together in one riding

The new riding does not include Mission. - Contributed
The new riding does not include Mission.
— image credit: Contributed

Providing the parliamentarians approve it, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge voters will belong to one riding under that name, in the next federal election in 2015.

The new riding boundaries coincide with municipal ones, using the most common sense divisions, Pitt River in the west and 287th Street in the east.

The change puts the riding population at about 94,000 people, about 10 per cent less than the target population for each riding of 104,763.

After hearing from the public, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission submitted its report redrawing the province’s federal electoral map and tabled it in the House of Commons on Monday.

MP Randy Kamp said he’s enjoyed representing the Mission in the current riding of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, but knew the area was going to exceed the population target for each riding.

“That seemed like the most sensible change, to keep Pitt Meadows and all of Maple Ridge together.”

Kamp doubts it will make any difference to his political fate during the next election, scheduled for October 2015, in which he plans to seek another term.

In previous elections, he tended to draw equally from throughout the riding. “It just seemed like the right boundaries to keep the communities … together.”

The new riding of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge is one of six new ridings in B.C., five of which are in the growing Lower Mainland.

A parliamentary committee will review the boundaries and hear any concerns from MPs, then report back to commission. The new ridings should be finalized by summer.

“The final configuration of electoral districts throughout British Columbia has been greatly influenced by submissions and presentations from the public. While it is not possible to satisfy everyone, the commission believes its final report provides for effective representation in all 42 electoral districts,” said the Honourable John E. Hall, chair of the three-member commission.

Kamp is back in Ottawa this week to start the first session of the 41st Parliament. The economy will be the main focus for the federal Conservatives.

The global economic situation is still fairly uncertain.

“We have to build on our job-creation record, which is still the best of the major developed countries.”

The budget comes down in March and the Safer Witnesses Act and the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, now in the Senate, are all up for discussion.

“There will be other justice bills coming as well.”

Writing new regulations for of the new Fisheries Act also continues in order to implement the new Sec. 35 of the act, which says no one shall do serious harm to commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries. That section replaces the clause that offered general protection of fish habitat and angered environmentalists, who say it only protects major fisheries, rather than all fish habitat.

But as far as Maple Ridge creeks and streams are concerned, Kamp says they’ll still be protected from environmental or development harm because they’re linked to the salmon fisheries of Fraser River.

“As I’ve said before, I think it can certainly be argued that every water way in our area is connected in some way to either a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery, so I don’t see any changes to protection in our area.”

Those policy decisions are currently being made now, he added.

Kamp recently was taken to task by Maple Ridge staff for not responding to inquiries from Maple Ridge’s staff and task force that had questions about the new Fisheries Act.

But Kamp said the questions should have gone to the office of the Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield. But Ashfield has been off sick after a heart attack.

“Some of those questions, to be frank, I had answered … when I was there [at council last fall] for more than two hours.

“They addressed them to the minister, so it’s in his office now.”

He said his office doesn’t have record of a Jan. 16 e-mail from the district.

Kamp’s office had also talked to Maple Ridge chief administrator Jim Rule earlier and told him it had received the questions and was responding.

“We thought we were responding to what we received.”

Kamp said his office has been trying to meet with TransLink to discuss West Coast Express service, but schedules have been conflicting.

 

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