The Regional District of East Kootenay is petitioning a provincial commission to keep the two existing electoral ridings in the East Kootenay, as a review is currently underway seeking feedback on existing boundaries.
Director Susan Clovechok, who represents Area F in the Columbia Valley, initiated a motion seeking that the boundary commission keep the two existing provincial ridings of Kootenay East and Columbia River – Revelstoke in the legislature, as both are within the regional district jurisdiction.
The RDEK board also passed a resolution to be submitted to the Association of Kootenay-Boundary Local Government (AKBLG) requesting that the AKBLG oppose the population-only formula for determining riding boundaries.
Clovechok noted concerns that focused on potentially losing rural representation through using a boundary-determining formula that focused on population rather than geography.
“The provincial government removed some of the rural parameters for the commission and saying they just wanted to look at strictly population representation, which could in result in us having only one MLA for the regional district, when Columbia River – Revelstoke is six to seven hours from one end to other to get to it, with 37,000 residents.”
Clovechok’s husband, Doug Clovechok, is the MLA for Columbia River – Revelstoke.
Clovechok noted that rural issues tend to be more complex with more local officials involved in developing policy. For example, she said the Columbia River – Revelstoke riding has over 35 locally elected officials, as opposed to lager urban centres, where numerous ridings are contained within a municipal boundary, such as Vancouver or Surrey.
“We deserve to have fair representation and fair representation cannot be achieved through a population-only formula,” she said.
Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick also lent his support to the idea of having more than two ridings in the region.
“I think we should get more aggressive than that,” he said. “We need more representation. Why should we stop at two? I think we need more, given the size of the constituencies and the issues we’re dealing with.”
Legislation introduced by the NDP government last year would remove earlier amendments from seven years ago stipulating that three regions — North region, Cariboo – Thompson region and Columbia – Kootenay region — cannot be reduced from the current total of 17 ridings.
Last fall, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka raied concerns about the potential impacts to rural representation, as ridings could potentially grow exponentially in size in order to accomodate the population formula.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission is a three-person panel that reviews electoral boundaries after two general elections. The commission seeks feedback, proposes changes based on public response, and submits a report to the Legislative Assembly for consideration by elected officials.
With files from Scott Tibballs/Fernie Free Press
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