Previous Public Input Received
The following input and submissions were gathered by the commission through public hearings held in 29 communities throughout B.C. from September to November 2014. The public also provided input through the online submission form, by email and by mail to be reviewed and considered as the commission develops a Preliminary Report for further public input.
< All input received

    Robert Tarswell, Princeton

    My name is Robert Tarswell. I am a Teacher and have lived in Princeton since 1981.

    There were some suggestions in the Penticton Hearings of the Electoral Commission that Princeton should be added to Boundary-Similkameen. I would like my voice to the contrary and do not want to see Princeton taken out of Fraser-Nicola. If Boundary-Similkameen needs more areas added to it to increase its population base then needed Voting Polls should be found from within the Okanagan Region, not from Fraser-Nicola. Princeton has been a part of Fraser-Nicola and previously Yale-Lillooet for almost 50 years. We have very well-established links with the communities of Fraser-Nicola. I would hate to see that changed. We do not have much in common with communities like Oliver, Osoyoos and Grand Forks. Boundary-Similkameen communities are heavily engaged in fruit-growing, tourism and wineries.

    Princeton, on the other hand, has so much in common with communities like Merritt, Lillooet and Logan Lake in Fraser-Nicola. For instance, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake are all in the same timber supply area and in the provincial forestry jurisdiction, the Cascades Forest District. Princeton and the Fraser-Nicola communities as mentioned above, plus Lytton, Lillooet, Cache Creek and Ashcroft, all share the same land-based and resource-extraction industries that include mining, forestry, ranching, transportation, hunting, fishing and recreational tourism.

    One of the other important links we share with communities north of us is the Nicola-Similkameen School District, which has the exact same boundaries as the Merritt TSA. As the current President of the Princeton Teachers Union and long-time teacher, I have first-hand experience of the travel teachers and school board officials make back and forth between Merritt and Princeton in order to attend important meetings, seminars and events. It is worth noting that Princeton teachers have their head office located in Merritt. I also see the dozens of logging trucks passing by in each direction as they deliver their logs to saw mills in Merritt and Princeton. I would hate to see our Nicola-Similkameen SD-58 split between two ridings and two MLAs.

    In addition to the above the communities of Princeton and Merritt are linked together by highway 5 which is used by community members to facilitate travel between the communities for shopping. Merritt being the most benefited, being the larger community and being the location of a Walmart and a Canadian Tire. Significant exchanges between both communities take place for sports such as curling, golf, school sports and organized youth sports.

    The present Fraser-Nicola’s boundaries in totality are identical to the sum of two school districts – Nicola-Similkameen SD-58 and Gold Trail SD-74 (see attached maps for “Map Reference – School Districts” and the “Electoral District Map of British Columbia”). However, when you compare the map of Yale-Lillooet prior to 2009 (as per Pages 98 and 99 in the “Preliminary Report” for the Cohen Commission) you will see that historically Yale-Lillooet essentially comprised of three school districts – SD-58, SD-74 and Fraser-Cascade SD-78 minus Harrison Hot Springs and Agassiz – but included Hope, Yale, Boston Bar and Silver Creek and the areas around them. All three of these school districts are rural in nature, share the same classroom culture, have high numbers of Aboriginal students and all deal with identical day-to-day issues. These issues include fighting school closures and funding cuts, program cuts, diminishing enrollment, cuts to Aboriginal Education, and bussing needs of students from un-incorporated villages, rural areas and Indian Reserves.

    Looking at population figures for the provincial electoral districts, it is evident that Fraser-Nicola is under the provincial average for constituencies by 23,000-plus people for a deviation of -42.65%. That situation could easily be rectified. I recommend the Commission remove the communities of Hope, Boston Bar, Yale, Silver Creek and their surrounding First Nations reserves from SD-78 (which previously were a part of Yale-Lillooet anyway) and add them to SD-58 and SD-74 in the Fraser-Nicola electoral district as was the case before 2009.

    I hope the Commission will find my comments helpful in your deliberations.

    Robert Tarswell



    < All input received