Electoral redistribution plan would cut Comox Valley in half

Comox Valley residents are sounding the alarm about a federal riding redistribution proposal.

A proposed federal riding redistribution proposal would transfer the part of the Comox Valley on one side of Highway 19 to the Nanaimo-Alberni riding.

Comox Valley residents are sounding the alarm about a federal riding redistribution proposal that apparently would hive much of the area from Vancouver Island North, transferring it to Nanaimo-Alberni.

“We in the Comox Valley have somehow become the butt of an incredible bad federal joke,” wrote Dorothy Drubek in the letter to the editor of the Comox Valley Record. “I have just received a copy of the proposed electoral map of B.C. for the distribution of federal districts and I am horrified.

“The plan for our area is to basically divide Courtenay in half, with all of us north of the river to remain in the North Island district — and those of us south of the river to join the Nanaimo-Alberni riding,” she adds.

In another letter to the editor, Tom Finkelstein contributed his thoughts.

“It appears that the appointees to the commission, assisted by federal bureaucrats who have likely never seen the Valley, wish to tear its heart out,” Finkelstein writes. “To divide this community along the Courtenay part of Comox Road and the old highway (19A) makes no sense.”

The federal government is proposing to change the boundary in the riding of Vancouver Island North, in keeping with a 10-year practice following the census where electoral districts and boundaries are revised to reflect population shifts and growth. If the change comes into effect, the boundary would extend south to Nanaimo and Port Alberni, and no longer extend north to Campbell River and beyond.

There will be a public hearing in October about the proposed change.

The province is gaining six electoral districts due to population increases. In 2001 there were about 3.9 million people in B.C. The 2011 census pegged it at 4.4 million.

“High population growth was noted between the North Shore and Chilliwack, on Vancouver Island, in the Okanagan as well as in the Kamloops area,” John Hall, chair of the Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C., said in a news release. “These changes have prompted us to make substantial adjustments to the boundary lines in these regions.”

The commission also focused on historical patterns and community of interest or identity to achieve the goal of effective representation in Parliament.

“We also bore in mind the proper representation of First Nations communities and residents of the northern electoral districts,” Hall said.

Under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, the commission’s main aim in redrawing boundaries is to divide the province into electoral districts as close to the average population as reasonably possible.

Residents can share their views about the proposed federal electoral map at a public hearing Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Crown Isle in Courtenay. Those wishing to make a presentation need to notify the commission no later than Aug. 30.

Notices of presentation should include:

• Name, address and contact information;

• Organization represented (if any);

• Date of the public hearing;

• A short overview of issue(s);

• Official language of preference;

• Any accommodation needs.

Written notice can be e-mailed to bc-cb@rfed-rcf.ca or mailed to Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia, 1095 West Pender St., Suite 301, Vancouver, B.C. V6E 2M6.

Alternatively, forms can be filled out at www.federal-redistribution.ca under British Columbia > Public Hearings.

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