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

    Wendy Eeckhout, Merritt

    I am retired a retired public servant and have lived in Merritt for 34 years. I spent nearly a decade as constituency assistant to an MLA in Yale-Lillooet, later known as Fraser-Nicola. I would like to support those who want to see Hope and the Fraser Canyon communities returned to Fraser-Nicola.

    I have travelled across the Southern Interior Region meeting with constituents and accompanying the MLA in his travels as the constituency assistant. As a result I became intimately familiar with every corner of the electoral district I worked in.

    What stood out for me above anything else was the similarity of issues in each community as they struggled unsuccessfully to retain their public services – health care, education, policing, social services, legal aid services, probation services, ministry offices like transportation and highways, forestry, environment and conservation, courthouses, rural post offices and government agencies. Most of these public services ended up being regionalized in communities like Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Abbotsford and Chilliwack and, as a result, it became it harder for constituents to address their concerns.

    There was also a strong similarity of issues that related to the constituency’s resource economy. Municipal, Aboriginal, business and labour leaders, and constituents braced for and fought against the negative consequences of market forces, globalization, the pine beetle infestation, federal-provincial government policies and funding cuts. The toll on the resource economy was devastating. There were massive job losses in forestry, mining and ranching due to forest products and logging operation closures in Lytton, Merritt, Princeton, Lillooet and BostonBar/Hope. Similco, Craigmont and Pioneer closed mines in Princeton, Merritt and Bralorne, respectively. And many families left unprofitable farms and ranches. It didn’t matter if it was Merritt, Princeton, Hope, or Lillooet services and jobs were cut in all small towns. Communities suffered as many laid-off workers left in their small community looking for work elsewhere, including Alberta.

    I understand the Commission has the mandate to include communities into a particular electoral district if they form a common “community of interests”. Elections Canada has the following to say about this:

    “Community of interest is based on the recognition and acceptance of the idea that a geographically concentrated group shares a certain attribute in common. That attribute might be defined according to location, as with a neighborhood or a set of municipal boundaries; as the product of a common pursuit, such as an economic interest…Drawing constituency boundaries according to a district's communit(ies) of interest is seen as a way of ensuring communication between citizens and their representative and of enhancing the representational process generally.”

    According to this definition, and in my experience working with these communities, it is clear to me that Hope and the Fraser Canyon belong in Fraser-Nicola. I urge the Commission to make the transfer. Thank you for your consideration.


    Wendy Eeckhout

    < All input received