Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter GABRIOLA SOUNDER
British Columbians have until Nov. 22 to respond to the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission’s preliminary report on changes to provincial electoral districts, which includes adjusting the boundaries of 71 electoral districts, including voters in central Vancouver Island.
The commission’s recommendation to add an electoral district in Langford would increase the number of districts in the Vancouver Island area to 15.
Currently in the Nanaimo-central Vancouver Island region, the three electoral districts are Parksville-Qualicum in the north, Nanaimo and Nanaimo-North Cowichan. The proposed changes would adjust or rename the districts to Nanaimo-Oceanside, Nanaimo-Gabriola Island and Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
The Nanaimo-Gabriola Island riding would cover 780 square kilometres and have a population of 58,924. It would cover Gabriola, Mudge and DeCourcy islands, Nanaimo’s downtown core, adjacent neighbourhoods and the Snuneymuxw First Nation communities to the south of the city centre. Gabriola was included in this proposed district since downtown Nanaimo is how Gabriolans access Vancouver Island, the report says.
Nanaimo-Ladysmith would include Ladysmith, Cassidy, Cedar and Yellow Point, as well as Nanaimo between Departure Bay Road in the south and Brickyard, Rutherford and Mostar roads in the north. Nanaimo-Oceanside would have the same boundaries as the current district and includes Parksville, Qualicum, French Creek, Nanoose Bay and Lantzville and Nanaimo west of Brickyard, Rutherford and Mostar roads.
The commission released its preliminary report on Oct. 3. The recommendations include adding six new electoral districts in areas of the province seeing rapid growth — Langford, Burnaby, Langley, Surrey, Vancouver and Kelowna. That would increase the number of seats in the B.C. Legislative Assembly to 93.
“British Columbia is a growing province,” Justice Nitya Iyer, Chair of the Commission, said via press release. “The population has increased by nearly half a million people over the last five years. Our recommendation to increase the number of electoral districts in B.C. reflects that growth.”
Public hearings on the preliminary report begin this month and include a virtual hearing on Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. and an in-person meeting at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo on Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. Online submissions are also accepted. The upcoming hearing schedule, online submission tool and preliminary report are available at www.bcebc.ca.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission Act stipulates an electoral boundaries commission be appointed after every second provincial general election to propose changes to the area, boundaries and names of electoral districts in the province.