September 25, 2015 - 2:30 PM
VERNON - Controversial boundary changes are no longer being considered for the North Okanagan's provincial electoral ridings, and you might be surprised at how few people it took to sway the proposal.
The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission, which reviews riding boundaries after every two provincial elections, had proposed removing a section of the Vernon-Monashee riding in the Swan Lake area and adding it to the Shuswap to even out the number of voters, but has opted to leave things status quo after hearing opposition from the community.
“(After) consideration of the responses to our proposals and in consideration that the population difference in the two electoral districts is only 10 per cent, we decided to revisit this decision and propose no change to the existing boundaries in this area,” the commission said in its final report.
According to records, the commission heard from six people at a public hearing May 13 in Vernon about the proposed changes, and from another seven Vernon residents in written format.
Communications manager Don Main couldn’t comment on whether the input collected in the Vernon area was a healthy level of feedback, but said public engagement is an important part of the boundaries adjustment process.
“It (public input) is required, so what this commission did was two rounds of public input. We did a round of public hearings last fall and then again after they proposed the changes to say, ‘Here’s what we propose, what do you think?” Main says.
While the idea of moving the Vernon-Monashee and Shuswap boundary line is off the table until at least 2021 after two more provincial elections, Main says it could come up again as part of the commission’s review process.
The commission’s goal, Main says, is to "have an evenness" among ridings so that representation by population is achieved.
The original proposal to move a portion of the Swan Lake area into the Shuswap riding would have addressed a discrepancy in the population sizes of the two ridings, he says.
The Vernon-Monashee riding currently has 62,106 people in it which is a 17 per cent deviation from the provincial riding average. The Shuswap has 59,352 which is a deviation of six per cent from the average.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015