B.C. Electoral map could see major changes

MLA John Rustad

Electoral boundary changes could add up to six new ridings while eliminating the protection of rural ridings, says Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad.

Without going through the details of the bill, there are some major aspects to be considered.

B.C. has about 5.3 million people and increasing MLAs to 93 from 87 means the average riding population should be about 57,000.

From 100 Mile House north, there are about 340,000 people. At 57,000 average population, the north could lose as many as four of its 10 seats.

The electoral boundary commission can still use the "very special circumstances" (a riding can be more than the standard 25 per cent deviation from the average) but they will likely only use that for two or three ridings at most.

The results will likely be a reduction in northern representation by two or three seats and likely one from the Kootenays, says Rustad.

Combined with the added seats, the balance of electoral representation in B.C. will forever be changed as the new seats and the reduced seats will be located in the Lower Mainland, he adds.

Rustad says British Columbians can influence this process by attending hearings throughout the province. Attend these meetings. He encourages voters to voice their perspective by sending emails and letters to the commission. They can also lobby local governments and regional district representatives.

The electoral boundary commission must be appointed by this fall and have its work completed at least one year before the next provincial election.