Electoral Boundaries Commission holds hearings in Northern B.C.

DAWSON CREEK, B.C.– The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission held two hearings in Dawson Creek and one in Fort Nelson over the last few days to hear the community’s perspective on potential boundary changes to electoral ridings. 

The first meeting, held in Dawson Creek on May 9th, had a turnout of about 75 people. The second meeting, also in Dawson Creek, was the morning of May 10th and saw another 40 people attend.

The feedback that constituents attending shared represented their perspectives on how the region ought to be represented in the B.C. legislature.

“Everybody highlighted kind of the geography of the region…and the diversity of economic interests and cultural considerations and social social challenges contained within,” Dawson Creek council member Jerimy Earl said.

A major concern voiced in the meetings is the potential loss of seats in the legislative assembly representing Northern B.C.

Previously, the amount of representatives in Northern B.C. was enshrined in the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act but those protections were diminished by recent revisions. “I think a lot of our apprehension stems from the fact that previously more rural ridings were protected from losing seats.” Earl explained. “Our concern is, obviously, that it’s now on the chopping block.”

“The message was loud and clear,” Fort St. John MLA Dan Davies, also in attendance at the public meeting, said. Maintaining the current number of representatives was “the bare minimum.” 

The case was also made for greater representation for the economically, culturally, and geographically diverse north by adding more seats to the region. 

Ridings are determined largely by population to ensure that each individual is represented equally. But according to Davies, in the case of the North, “It is much more than representation by population only.”

The meetings themselves provide an example of the breadth of territory northern ridings already cover. Of the two meetings held in Dawson Creek, 75 per cent of the attendees were Fort St. John residents who braved poor conditions on the highway to have their voices heard by the commission, according to Davies.

The Electoral Boundaries Commission was formed last October to evaluate the boundaries and the number of constituents in each riding and make boundary changes to evenly distribute residents among MLAs. Another virtual public meeting will be held on May 13 at 5:00pm to hear from residents of all regions.

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