Nelson could be part of the East Kootenay for the next federal election under proposed changes to district boundaries.
The city in the West Kootenay will be part of the Kootenay Columbia riding if the changes by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission are approved.
It has been a decade since the electoral boundaries were last adjusted to divide B.C. into 36 ridings with a roughly equal share of the province’s population.
But that division was based on B.C.’s population in 2001 of 3,907,738; last year’s census found the population of B.C. is now 4,400,057.
What’s more, B.C. will be given 42 seats in the House of Commons, up from 36.
So in March, the commission set about revising the boundaries of B.C.’s ridings so that each of the 42 MPs represents approximately 104,763 voters, plus or minus 25 per cent. The new lines were drawn and announced on Tuesday, July 3.
The proposed new Kootenay Columbia riding would have a population of 109,058 voters. Currently, Kootenay Columbia only has 88,026 voters.
As well as adding Nelson, which has a population of 10,230, the new boundary would add Salmo, Fruitvale and Montrose.
In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Area G has been added, along with parts of Area E, F and H, and a larger section of Area F. In the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, Area A is now in Kootenay Columbia.
At the moment, Kootenay Columbia covers the entire Regional District of East Kootenay and all of the communities within it, Revelstoke, Golden, Nakusp and Creston, plus Areas A, B, C, and K in the Regional District of Central Kootenay, and Areas A and B in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
Conservative MP David Wilks holds the House of Commons seat for Kootenay Columbia.
“I’m quite happy the commission has been able to find a way to increase the population,” Wilks told the Townsman.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the local submissions will be and also that of Members of Parliament if they are able to make their submission as well.”
The B.C. commission is one of 10 independent federal electoral boundaries commissions created by law. The three commissioners, the Honourable John E. Hall, Stewart Ladyman and Peter Meekison, take into account communities of interest or identity and a district’s history and geographic size to determine where the new boundaries should lie.
“We also bore in mind the proper representation of First Nations communities and residents of the northern electoral districts,” said Judge Hall.
In September, the commissioners will embark on a tour of the province to conduct public consultation on the proposed changes.
A public hearing will be held in Cranbrook on Monday, October 1 at 7 p.m. at the Heritage Inn. Anyone can attend, but those wishing to make a presentation should register before August 30. For more information visit www.federal-redistribution.ca.
—Sally MacDonald is a reporter with the Cranbrook Daily Townsman (Black Press)