The proposed new federal riding of Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley. (Special to The News)

The proposed new federal riding of Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley. (Special to The News)

Our View: New riding doesn’t pass muster

Strange new riding doesn’t serve its residents

Drawing the boundaries of new federal ridings is never an easy task. The goals of keeping populations roughly equal from riding to riding, while also trying to keep them within sensible boundaries, is always going to result in some compromises.

That said, the new proposed redistribution of electoral districts, released May 2, makes an unholy mess of Maple Ridge, Pit Meadows, and several of its neighbours.

The worst offender is undoubtedly the newly created riding of Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley.

Yes, you read that correctly, but that isn’t the half of it.

The riding begins to the west with a chunk of Port Coquitlam, takes in most of Pitt Meadows, a sliver of northeast Surrey, then covers the western half of Maple Ridge up to 224th Street, and all of Langley north of Highway #1.

For a riding in a relatively urban area, that’s an unusual number of municipalities – well, parts of municipalities – to be contained within one riding.

Describing it, it sounds like a rural or northern riding, one put together from half a dozen small towns spread over several hundred kilometres, or like the old Fraser Valley ridings of the 1950s or earlier, when New Westminster through Mission shared an MP.

One of the purposes of an electoral district is to create regions whose residents have some common shared interests. Their elected MP can then represent those interests in Ottawa.

What shared interests are there for the residents of this proposed riding?

When it comes to roads and transport, some of them want upgrades to Highway #1, others to the Lougheed.

Residents live in neighbourhoods as diverse as high-rise condos and apartment towers, all the way to multi-acre family farms on both sides of the Fraser and Pitt Rivers.

People in Pitt Meadows have more in common with people from Maple Ridge than they do with folks in Walnut Grove.

Walnut Grove and Fort Langley residents have more in common with those in Willoughby and Langley City than they do with those in Port Coquitlam.

Randomly slicing and dicing existing ridings, cutting across major geographical features and urban boundaries makes no sense.

Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley has a distinct feel of being the bits that were left over, and while it’s not the only unusual riding on this new map – there are several other strange decisions – it looks like the worst in the Lower Mainland.

Here’s hoping that those who are making the decisions – likely individuals back East who are unfamiliar with the region – find a better way to draw this map before the final plan is approved.

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