The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)

B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

B.C.’s rural-urban political divide could be getting wider in the years to come, as the NDP government plans to remove protection for existing rural seats in the B.C. legislature and add more to areas with growing population.

Attorney General David Eby introduced changes to the next electoral boundary commission Monday, giving it the ability to add as many as six new seats to a legislature that is already crowded with 87 MLAs. It would also remove a restriction in place since 2014 that prevents reducing the number of northern and rural seats to balance population with urban zones.

MLAs of all parties agreed then that B.C.’s most far-flung constituencies can’t get any bigger and still be represented by a single elected member. At the time, Stikine and North Coast were the most thinly populated, with fewer than 23,000 residents scattered over huge areas, while some Vancouver constituencies had more than 60,000 people.

Eby said B.C.’s population is expected to grow by another 500,000 people, and the changes give the next electoral boundaries commission the ability to use its discretion, with a guideline that representation should only vary by plus or minus 25 per cent from the average size of constituencies.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said the changes will likely mean the loss of one or two seats in Northern B.C. and one in the Kootenay region, as urban populations continue to see the most growth.

RELATED: B.C. Liberals move to freeze number of rural seats

RELATED: Surrey gets ninth MLA, New Westminster gains one

“From 100 Mile House north, there are about 340,000 people,” Rustad wrote on Facebook Monday. “At 57,000 average population, the north could have as few as six seats from its current 10 seats.”

Electoral boundary reviews take place every six years, led by a B.C. Supreme Court judge. Former premier Gordon Campbell initiated the protection of rural seats after a 2008 review recommended eliminating one seat in the Cariboo-Thompson region and one in the North.

The most recent changes were prior to the 2017 election, with Surrey getting a ninth MLA and a new Richmond-Queensborough seat added to bring the number of seats to the current 87.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politics

Just Posted

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read