Proposed changes by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia would mean the new Kootenay-Columbia riding would have a population of 107

Proposed changes by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia would mean the new Kootenay-Columbia riding would have a population of 107

Kootenay-Columbia riding poised to grow

Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo could soon join the Kootenay-Columbia federal riding.

Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo could soon join the Kootenay-Columbia federal riding if the recommendations made by the BC Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission pass in the House of Commons.

The Commission tabled its report with the House of Commons on January 28. The report modifies the boundary of the Kootenay-Columbia riding to include Nelson, Salmo, Kaslo and surrounding area, but lops off Nakusp, joining it with the new riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

The Commission is mandated to increase the province’s electoral  districts from 36 to 42 because of a population increase to 4,400,057, according to the 2011 census. The electoral quota for British Columbia is 104,763 residents per electoral district.

The proposal is sure to be controversial in the West Kootenay, where local politicians and residents have argued against the move as it would split Nelson from its neighbouring cities of Castlegar and Trail.

Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks said he supports the changes, though he expects his BC Southern Interior NDP counterpart Alex Atamanenko to oppose them.

“I expected most of it to happen,” Wilks said. “I’m not opposed to any of it. The commission had a tough job to do. They had to try and get every riding up, and that’s what they had to do.”

He did note that expanding the riding would create additional challenges due to the fact he would have to represent more communities — should he win re-election.

“Having said that, I’ve made a promise all along that if I am re-elected in 2015 – and I do plan to run – that I would have an office in Nelson as well as Cranbrook, and that would assist the riding immensely,” he said.

The result basically chops the existing BC Southern Interior riding in two – adding Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo to Kootenay-Columbia; and re-naming the BC Southern Interior riding as South Okanagan-West Kootenay, which would include Nakusp, Trail, Castlegar, Fruitvale, Grand Forks, Penticton and Osoyoos.

The BC Southern Interior riding has traditionally been NDP, while Kootenay-Columbia and the south Okanagan are traditionally Conservative, meaning the proposed changes could have significant political implications. They add almost 20,000 people from NDP-dominated areas to the Kootenay-Columbia, a riding that the Conservative Party (and the Reform Party before it) has dominated for 20 years.

John Chisamore, the president of the Kootenay-Columbia NDP riding association said the changes should be helpful to his party.

“Is it going to be enough to get us up close to the Conservative numbers?” he said. “I know that when we did look at it, it wasn’t going to be enough but it would give us a better chance.”

Under the new alignment, however, BC Southern Interior NDP MP Atamanenko would lose Nelson — an NDP party stronghold — to the Conservative Kootenay-Columbia riding. Atamanenko is in Russia on a trade mission and unavailable for comment.

This would hurt Atamanenko’s chances for re-election, said political observer Wolf Depner.

Atamanenko, “is going to be in a much tougher spot now. If Nelson falls out of his riding, that’s a good chunk of his vote there,” said Depner, a former journalist who’s now a doctoral candidate in political science at UBC Okanagan.

The new Kootenay-Columbia riding would have a population of 107,589 people, 2.7 per cent above British Columbia’s electoral district quota. According to the commission’s report, they looked at keeping the riding as is, but it would have had a population 16 per cent below the quota without the changes.

“Submissions encouraged the Commission to keep Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in one electoral district,” the report states. “However, such a combination would have resulted in an electoral district with numbers well above the electoral quota.”

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission reviews the boundaries of the federal ridings every 10 years. B.C. gained six new ridings this time – one on Vancouver Island and five in the Lower Mainland. The commission is composed of Justice John Hall, Dr. Peter Meekison, Chancellor of Royal Roads University; and Stewart Ladyman, a former school administrator. The new boundaries will be studied this spring by a House of Commons committee that will accept MPs’ written objections, which will then be sent back to the commission for consideration. The final realignment will be submitted to Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer in September.

Alex Cooper

Reporter, The Revelstoke Times Review — a Black Press Publication

reporter@revelstoketimesreview.com

—With files from Nicole Trigg, The Valley Echo

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by: WeissPaarz.com
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read