Railway funding and redistribution of electoral boundaries

NDP MP Jean Crowder talk about what funding for the E&N Railway means for Ladysmith, and how the electoral district boundaries will change.

The New Democrats welcomed the final piece of funding for the E&N Railway reconstruction when it was announced this month.

The additional $7.5 million to rehabilitate the rail bed to make it safe for passenger traffic comes at a crucial time in our Island’s economic life.

Nearly 1,000 new jobs will come on line at the Esquimalt Dockyard, and the new commuter rail line is needed to stop the gridlock already facing the lower Island and provide workers north of the Malahat a reliable way to get to work.

For Ladysmith, the new commuter rail will allow more residents to travel down to the lower Island for work or appointments in Victoria and travel back in the same day.

I have heard from many in our area who prefer not to travel to Victoria and area by car because of the traffic problems.

But it isn’t only the lower Island where people have trouble accessing. At the seniors’ forum I hosted on Feb. 24, many people raised the problem of reliable, affordable transit to Nanaimo.

Clearly, our community still needs more transportation options to improve everyone’s access, but having a commuter rail line is a good start.

Another issue that will soon face our community is the re-distribution of federal electoral district boundaries.

Every 10 years, the boundaries of federal ridings are re-drawn to reflect changes in population.

As Nanaimo-Cowichan is the second-largest electoral district in the province — with a population of 125,149 and 99,872 voters — our boundaries are definitely changing.

This is your chance to make sure our new electoral district reflects our population, our history and our community interests.

New census data was released in February.

The 2012 Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia, an independent and non-partisan body, will identify and confirm new boundaries that will reflect the data.

While the main goal is keeping the population roughly even, the Commission must also consider geographic barriers — like ferry routes — and communities of interest in their decision-making.

The Commission is working on a proposal right now to re-draw the boundaries. Once that proposal is published, the public will be asked to provide input. The deadline for letting the Commission know you want to present your ideas is only 23 days after they publish their proposal.

You can find the Commission’s contact information at www.

federal-redistribution.ca, or there is a link on my website at www.jeancrowder.ca. You can also call them at 1-855-747-7236 or by TTY at 1-800-361-8935.