The commissioner tasked with tweaking federal electoral boundaries in B.C. admits the changes are less than perfect, but Capital Region leaders hope another Island MP will ultimately create a stronger voice in Ottawa.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission released its proposals earlier this week. Public opposition to proposed changes prevailed in Victoria, as Vic West remains part of the riding.
“As the process went on, I got less fixated on numbers and more fixated on what made sense, to have people hanging together as communities,” said John Hall, the B.C. federal boundaries commissioner and a provincial appeal court judge.
Victoria has approximately 110,000 people in the unchanged riding. The smallest Island riding will be the newly created Cowichan-Malahat-Langford with 99,100 people.
In Saanich, the Saanich-Gulf Islands border will be altered to follow Quadra and Cook streets south to the Victoria boundary, shaving off an area, including the municipal hall, for the newly created Saanich-Juan de Fuca.
Mayor Frank Leonard said he’s grown accustomed to such “tinkering,” with three MPs and three provincial MLAs representing various pockets of the district.
“I actually find it convenient,” he said. “They’re not usually the same political party … and they serve us well.”
Federal ridings are reviewed every 10 years, with a goal of creating areas of roughly 105,000 people. B.C.’s share of federal seats will increase from 36 to 42.
The most controversial change is in the current riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, which MP Randall Garrison worries will cause confusion amongst voters.
The proposal calls for the West Shore to be split into two ridings, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, and Saanich-Juan de Fuca. Garrison said he’ll lobby for the latter to be called Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.
“It would better reflect the geography of the new riding and better indicate who is included and who is not,” Garrison said.
Nationwide, federal electoral districts will increase to 338 from 308.
The population of B.C. has jumped half a million to 4.4 million since the last redistribution in 2002.
To view the proposed changes, visit federal-redistribution.ca.