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New West to be split into five provincial ridings under new proposal

BC Electoral Boundaries Commission recommends the Queensborough riding stays as-is, but the rest of New West gets divvied up into four ridings

New Westminster could be carved up into five ridings if proposals from the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission proceed.

Under the proposals released Monday, New Westminster residents would be voting in five provincial ridings: Burnaby East, Burnaby-New Westminster, Burnaby South, New Westminster-Maillardville, and Richmond-Queensborough.

“The population of the current electoral district of New Westminster is large and growing quickly,” said the commission’s Oct. 3 preliminary report. “To address this, we propose moving some of its more residential areas into adjacent electoral districts in Burnaby.”

The commission has published its preliminary report with recommendations for changing British Columbia’s provincial electoral districts for the next two provincial general elections.

“British Columbia is a growing province,” said Justice Nitya Iyer, chair of the commission. “The population has increased by more than 300,000 people over the last five years. Our recommendation to increase the number of electoral districts in B.C. reflects that growth.”

Key recommendations the commission will be making to the Legislative Assembly include the creation of six additional electoral districts, bringing the total number of seats to 93 from the current 87. The commission is proposing to add these electoral districts in six areas of rapid population growth, including Burnaby.

In addition to creating new ridings, the commission is recommending adjustments to the boundaries of 71 electoral districts based on the geographic, demographic, communication and transportation considerations. 

New Westminster residents are currently part of two provincial ridings — New Westminster (which includes all of the city’s mainland) and Richmond-Queensborough (which includes Queensborough).

According to the preliminary report, factors used when applying the proposed new boundaries include: geographic considerations (including the accessibility, size or physical configuration of any part of British Columbia); demographic considerations (including communities of interest and the sparsity, density or rate of growth of the population of any part of British Columbia); and the availability and means of communication and transportation between various parts of British Columbia.

“In order to be democratic, the number of people in each electoral district must be roughly the same. Representation by population in our democracy is therefore the right to a relatively equal voice in electing the representatives that govern us,” states the report. “Where a person lives, what they do for a living or how much they contribute to the economic well-being of the community does not make a difference to the weight of their vote. The principle of representation by population must be balanced with the equally important principle of effective representation.”

The Burnaby, New Westminster and Tri-Cities area currently consists of nine electoral districts, and includes New Westminster (except Queensborough), includes Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

“Proposing adjustments to electoral boundaries in this area is challenging because of its rapid rate of population growth and the fact that two ridings are close to the top of the usual deviation range,” said the report. “In addition to this, New Westminster’s population is too large for a single riding but too small for two electoral districts.”

According to the report, people expressed different opinions about whether the New Westminster neighbourhood of Queensborough, which was moved into Richmond-Delta in the last electoral boundary adjustment, should remain in a Richmond riding or return to New Westminster. The commission is proposing to keep it in a Richmond riding, saying that moving it would neither improve effective representation nor better balance electoral district populations.”

“We heard that Queensborough has ties to both New Westminster and Richmond. We did not hear Queensborough residents express concern about the effectiveness of their representation,” said the report. “Therefore, we do not propose any change for Queensborough, but do propose relatively minor adjustments to the boundaries of all six Richmond-Delta ridings to better balance their populations.”

While Queensborough is proposed to remain in its current riding, changes are being proposed for the rest of New West:

* Burnaby-New Westminster: This riding would include the Kelvin and Glenbrooke neighbourhoods of New Westminster and the adjacent Eastburn, Middlegate and Edmonds neighbourhoods of Burnaby. The proposed boundaries of this riding are Imperial Street in the north, Griffiths Drive in the west, Sixth Avenue in the south and the line of McBride Boulevard and Newcombe Street in the east.

* Burnaby East: Now situated in the northeast corner of Burnaby, in an area bounded by Kensington Avenue, North Road and the Burrard Inlet, the commission proposes boundary adjustments to this electoral district to remove the neighbourhood of Eastburn and to add the part of New Westminster bounded by McBride Boulevard, East Eighth Avenue and Cumberland Street to form its southern boundary.

* Burnaby South: This riding would include the Metrotown, Suncrest and South Slope neighbourhoods of Burnaby and New Westminster’s Connaught Heights neighbourhood.

* New Westminster-Maillardville: The proposed riding boundaries include “downtown” New Westminster (south of Sixth Avenue) and the neighbourhoods of Queen’s Park, Sapperton and Brunette Creek, as well as Maillardville in Coquitlam. This riding now extends as far north and east as Austin Avenue and Schoolhouse Street.

What’s next?

Having released its recommendations in its preliminary report, the commission will now begin a final round of public consultations.

“The commission encourages British Columbians to read our recommendations and share their views,” said a BCEBC press release. “The commission will consider amending its recommendations in light of the input it receives.”

The commission’s final report must be released by April 3, 2023. The Legislative Assembly will then decide whether to accept all, some or none of the Commission’s recommendations.

Public hearings will begin this month in communities throughout the province.

In New West, a public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 9:30 a.m. at the Inn at the Quay. If you plan on presenting at the meeting, it’s appreciated if you RSVP by emailing info@bcebc.ca.

On Friday, Nov. 4, a meeting is taking place at the Executive Plaza Hotel Coquitlam on North Road. A virtual public hearing is set for Nov. 8 at 5 p.m.

British Columbians can also provide input by writing to the commission directly by email or post. All public input must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.

To read the preliminary report, view the schedule of upcoming public hearings, or provide input on the commission’s recommendations, visit www. bcebc.ca.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email tmcmanus@newwestrecord.ca

 

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