Monday, August 20, 2007

From the Citizen in PG

Electoral reform unites rural B.C.

(Opinion) Friday, 17 August 2007, 23:01 PST
by city editor Randall Heidt
You know something is a bad idea when every politician in northern B.C. -- regardless whether they are NDP, Liberal, municipal or regional -- unanimously speaks out against it.

But that's what happened when The Citizen talked with mayors, MLAs and regional district directors about the proposed changes in a B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission report that says the Prince George area and others should lose a seat in the legislative assembly.

"I'm absolutely and totally appalled," Prince George Mayor Colin Kinsley said in a Citizen story Friday.

That was pretty much the message from everyone else as well.

The report suggests the Northern Interior, Central Interior and the Kootenays should each lose one MLA, and the lost rural seats are to be redistributed among urban centres where population growth has occurred. There would also be the addition of two urban seats in Lower Mainland metropolitan centres.

We understand if population growth in the Lower Mainland necessitates the addition of seats, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of rural B.C.

The move would see the riding of Prince George-Omineca disappear. Most of its territory would be included in a new Bulkley-Nechako electoral district. A seat would also be lost in the Cariboo area.

In other words, if you think the North gets less attention than the ugly girl behind Paris Hilton on the red carpet, it's only going to get worse.

But you can do something about it.

The proposed changes will be discussed at a public hearing Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Coast Inn of the North. Go and make your voice heard. Or, log on to the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission website at and download a participation form. You may also phone the commission's office at (604) 660-1203.

Just do something.

The squeaky wheel is going to get the grease on this one, so let's make sure the North makes such an annoying amount of noise that it cannot be ignored.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

From the Prince George Citizen

City should lose one of its MLAs, report suggests
Comment on this article (0) Print E-mail
(News) Thursday, 16 August 2007, 00:00 PST
by Citizen staff

Prince George will be represented by only two ridings, if suggestions in a report released Wednesday the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission are implemented.

"The Central North currently has five electoral districts," the commission says in a summary from the report. "Three originate in Prince George, splitting the city among them and stretching far to the north, northwest and southwest.

"The commission has concluded that Prince George should be divided between only two electoral districts."

The proposed changes will be discussed at a public hearing Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Coast Inn of the North.

Prince George currently is split among the Prince George North, Prince George-Omineca and Prince George-Mount Robson ridings. Each includes a portion of the city, but also a large area of the surrounding region.

In its report, the commission calls for a Prince George urban riding that includes most of the city and a Fraser-Fort George riding that includes a portion of the city's outskirts.

The riding of Prince George-Omineca would disappear, and most of its territory would be included in a new Bulkley-Nechako electoral district, which would follow the boundaries of the Bulkley-Nechako regional district.

"As B.C.'s largest city north of Kamloops, Prince George has many urban economic, social and cultural issues that would benefit from an MLA being able to focus on these community interests," the commission said. "The commission is proposing a new urban electoral district be created completely within the City of Prince George.

"The proposed electoral district of Prince George comprises the downtown area of the City of Prince George. The Fraser and Nechako rivers form its eastern and northern boundaries, respectively. UNBC and Highway 16 form part of the western boundary."

The commission has also proposed that the new Fraser-Fort George electoral district include the remainder of Prince George. "Its outer boundaries will correspond exactly to the Fraser-Fort George Regional district," the commission said.

People wanting to participate in the hearing Sept. 5 may download a PDF version of application and mail it to the commission's office at Suite 601, 700 West Georgia St., Vancouver, BC V7Y 1B6 or faxing it to (604) 660-1207 (toll free 1-877-660-1207). You may also phone the commission's office at (604) 660-1203.

If you're unable to register in advance, attend anyway. The commission says it will make every effort to accommodate everyone who wants to speak, after the pre-registered scheduled participants have been heard.

Elsewhere in its report, the independent panel has recommended adding two new seats in the B.C. legislature, bringing the total number of MLA's to 81 from 79.

The preliminary report of the three-member B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission calls for four new ridings in the Vancouver region and one new one in the Okanagan.

At the same time, the Cariboo-Thompson, Columbia-Kootenay regions, like the North, would each lose a riding.

The commission was also asked to draw proposed electoral boundaries under the single transferable vote system in case the system is approved in a referendum set for 2009.

Under STV, in which voters can select more than one MLA in each riding, there would be 20 ridings, containing from two to six MLA's in each electoral district.

A round of 27 public meetings to discuss the preliminary report is set to begin with the one in Prince George Sept. 5 and the panel will submit a final report to the legislature in mid-February.)

From the Terrace Standard

Liberals would drop one seat

THE LIBERAL party would lose one seat if the redistribution of northwest ridings takes place as proposed by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Currently the North Coast and Skeena ridings are held by the NDP and the Bulkley Valley-Stikine and Prince George-Omineca ridings are held by the Liberals.

The proposal would keep the North Coast riding name but take parts of it and add it to the new Skeena-Stikine riding.

Most of the voters to be added are in the Nass Valley and Stewart which cast 601 ballots for current North Coast NDP MLA Gary Coons and just 131 for Liberal Bill Belsey in the 2005 provincial election.

If that spread stayed the same, it would help current Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin who topped Liberal Roger Harris by 359 votes in the 2005 election.

Also helping Austin would be the Hazeltons which could also be part of the new Skeena-Stikine riding.

That area posted 1043 votes for NDPer Doug Donaldson in 2005 compared to 243 for Liberal winner Dennis MacKay.

Heading into Smithers and then on to Vanderhoof for a riding to be called Bulkley-Nechako, the Liberals have a lot of support and would continue to beat the NDP provided current voting patterns stayed the same.

In any event, the loss of a northern seat wouldn't hurt the Liberals oveall if its current pattern of winning in more urban areas continues

Is it time to break up BC?

Since the Electoral Boundaries Commission Report came out I have been thinking about the situation in BC and how rural BC is losing more and more influence.

The nothern 2/3s of the province produce much of the wealth of BC but will now have less MLAs than Surrey. The ability to make decisions about the land in the North will be in the hands of people from the urban south. The time is coming for a major change. Time for the north to separate.

If one were to create a Northern BC province from Clinton north, then the population would be in control again over their lands and destiny.

  • This new Northern BC would have a population of about 260 000.
  • It would be the single biggest producer of lumber in Canada.
  • It would be a major oil and gas producer
  • It would be able to focus on the development of Prince Rupert as a real alternative to Vancouver
  • It will be a major coal producer
  • Also a major source of metals, both precious and base
  • Also a source of a lot of hydro power.
  • It could develop the transportation links to Yukon and Alaska

I think the case is there for the creation of this new province.

This new province would also get 4 senators and 4 MPs, up from 0 Senators and 3 MPs

At the moment it would be the 10th largest province with respect to population, but about 15 years it will have passed Newfoundland and Labradour in population and could catch New Brunswick in just over a generation.

It would

From the Williams Lake Tribune

N. Cariboo could lose an MLA

By Jeremy Deutsch
Tribune Staff Writer

Boundaries commission proposes new, larger riding

A commission set up to re-examine B.C.’s electoral districts has recommended one district for most of the Cariboo Chilcotin, including Williams Lake and Quesnel in one riding.

Gone would be the Cariboo North and South ridings, in favour of a single Cariboo-Chilcotin riding that would extend north just short of Hixon, south to Gang Ranch, and west just short of Hagensborg.

A second riding, Cariboo-Fraser, would run just south of Williams Lake and include Dog Creek and Alkali Lake and stretch as far south as Merritt and Lytton.

The proposed changes would now see four ridings in the Cariboo-Thompson regions instead of five.

City in one riding

The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission, which released its report Wednesday, has made a number of other recommendations which include adding two new seats in the B.C. legislature for a total of 81, and another vote on single transferable vote.

The current commission, after hearing objections from the public who did not like Williams Lake split in two, decided to put the city into one riding.

“During our public consultations, some people said splitting Williams Lake was not a welcome decision, while residents of communities west of Kamloops expressed frustration at having to travel to Williams Lake to meet with their MLA,” Commission chair Justice Bruce Cohen, says.

The commission used a complicated formula to re-draw the boundaries, with a riding population quotient of 50,784, but allowed for a deviation of up to 25 per cent above or below.

The estimated population in a newly formed Cariboo-Chilcotin riding would be 45,104, a deviation of -11.2 per cent.

The Cariboo-Fraser electoral district would have a population of 42,170, a deviation of -17 per cent.

North Cariboo MLA Bob Simpson cautions that it’s just a report with recommendations.

While he thinks the reunification of Williams Lake into one riding makes sense, the size of the new riding and loss of representation is a concern

“There is a loss [to Williams Lake] because they don’t have two potential voices,” Simpson says.

He’s also concerned about the balance of rural representation and the shift towards more urban representation.

“In a province where the wealth is still generated in those rural areas which make up a large majority of the province’s geography, that shift towards urban representation is troublesome,” he says.

Cariboo-South MLA Charlie Wyse did not have a chance to really look over the recommendations before press time, but his initial reaction was that it was a double-whammy, by adding more seats in the Lower Mainland and taking away from rural areas.

The commission is holding public hearings in Williams Lake on Oct. 22, so members of the public can voice their opinion on the electoral-boundary proposals.

The final report will be complete by Feb. 15, 2008. From there it is up the legislature in the spring session to decide whether it wants to adopt the recommendations.

The commission also proposed boundaries for 20 B.C. single transferable vote electoral districts with between two and six members for total of 81 MLAs.

Electoral Boundaries Commision

Their report is out. They suggested that going to 85 MLAs would not make much difference to the rural representation, but in looking at it, I think it does.

Once one moves to 85 instead of 81 MLAs, the district population quota falls to 48394, at -25% this is 36295. The three Kootenay ridings have a population of 144827, divided four ways this is 36100, just under the population needed to have four ridings. If one moves the boundary country back into the Kootenaies, well, only Area 'C' of the Boundary Kootenay regional district. This would move over 1450 people and allow there to be four Kootenay ridings.

The Cariboo-Thompson has a total population fo 189128, divided five ways this is 37826, so within the -25% limit. How does one achieve this? I would centre three ridings around Kamloops taking Merritt, Logan Lake and TNRD Area 'M' and 'N' into the Kamloops riding. The other two ridings you would have to take more lands from Williams Lake and move them south, about 7500 people, but this is not unrealistic.

In the North it is hard to figure out how to add another riding without dropping the population much too low in all of the ridings. I like the fact that they only chose to allow two special circumstances ridings.

The total population is 256579 people, over 8 ridings this would be 32110 people, well below the -25%. If one factors out the two special circumstance ridings, this leaves 209863 for an average of 34977 over 6 ridings, still too small.

The only way to achieve an extra one in the north is to create one more special circumstance riding of about 25 000 people. I would argue that Skeena Stikine should be the other special circumstances. By moving the Hazeltons to Bulkley Nechako this could be achieved. You then move some of the area around Vanderhoof to the Prince George area. Prince George and region would then have three ridings.

I realize that suggesting this for the north is stretch.

You would have to make some changes elsewhere in BC once you move to 85 ridings. Richmond Steveston would be marginally too high in population, but a small change there would drop the into the correct range.