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City of Courtenay will present as-yet-undecided position about riding boundary change

An electoral redistribution proposal would split the Comox Valley along Highway 19A, sending the west part of Courtenay and Cumberland to Nanaimo-Alberni. - Photo submitted
An electoral redistribution proposal would split the Comox Valley along Highway 19A, sending the west part of Courtenay and Cumberland to Nanaimo-Alberni.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Courtenay will present its position on proposed changes to federal electoral districts — which would divide the City in two ridings — to the 2012 Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of BC.

Coun. Bill Anglin brought forward a resolution Monday to notify the commission so the City can present its stance at the public hearing set for Oct. 15 at Crown Isle. The motion was was carried.

The proposed changes would essentially split Courtenay along the Courtenay River, with the northeast side of the city, following Highway 19A north from Lewis Park, remaining in the Vancouver Island North riding, and the southeast side of the city on the other side of the river transferring to the Nanaimo-Alberni district.

Cumberland would also shift to Nanaimo-Alberni.

Anglin told the Record that council hasn't yet decided what the City's position will be, but because the next council meeting falls after the deadline for submissions for presentations (Aug. 30), he felt it necessary to make sure the City can have its say about the issue.

"We haven't decided specifically as a council what the City's position is certainly, but to me it was important enough that we needed to make representation before the commission," he said, adding he, personally, is somewhat concerned about splitting Courtenay in half.

"The big thing is when you go through that process and you split a city like Courtenay down the middle, sometimes the representation can be lost because it's, you know, split out between Alberni and Nanaimo-Alberni and the North Island, so I just thought it was something that we should be at least discussing, and then we can present to (the commission)."

Now, the Vancouver Island North electoral district starts south of the Comox Valley and extends up to the north end of the Island, and over to the mainland.

Every 10 years the federal government revises electoral boundaries and districts based on the census to ensure the areas reflect population shifts and growth.

The change would see the Vancouver Island North district with a population of 110,769 and the Nanaimo-Alberni district with 109,624.

Anglin noted his views on the split are not politically based — they are based on how Courtenay as a whole would be represented.

"It's really just a matter of when you look at it is trying to figure out is it best for the City of Courtenay," he said. "I don't think it necessarily, at the end of the day, probably helps people. We generally are looking to be represented as one group as opposed to split down that artificial line."

He also noted bureaucratic paperwork would likely become more complicated, such as when the City applies for federal grants for projects.

Although other Canadian cities have been divided into two or more federal ridings for years, such as Prince George, Anglin pointed out the South Okanagan-West Kootenay proposed boundary would see a population of 114,676, and he hopes there could be some wiggle room for Courtenay to remain as one riding.

"There's certainly some room in terms of maybe readjusting that border and taking in the City of Courtenay as a whole and then going from there," he said.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord

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