Thank you for the opportunity to present my thoughts to you online.
I wholeheartedly support our Provincial legislation that protects rural seats – I think protecting rural representation, beyond population, is critical. It’s critical to maintaining balance and to offer a diversity of urban and rural voices in Victoria.
Specific to your report, I am pleased that you have kept the Fraser-Nicola riding. I would like to comment on your proposed changes, however, and provide some personal feedback.
We feel Merritt acts as a central outpost for the Fraser-Nicola. We work to connect smaller rural communities; south to Princeton, north to Kamloops, northwest to Logan Lake and Ashcroft/Cache Creek, and west to Spences Bridge, Lytton and Lillooet. Proudly, I believe Merritt brings our rural communities together in the Fraser-Nicola.
But to be clear, within the Fraser-Nicola Merritt does not dominate and we do not compete. Everyone is able to voice concerns to their MLA. We share a rural perspective based on a rural economy. We are founded on natural resources and mutual respect.
It is true Merritt is a forest-dependent town. Princeton is less so. But we are the headquarters for the Cascades Forest District. Notably, the Cascades Forest District is made up of the Lillooet and Merritt Timber Supply Areas. This Forestry District is comprised of many communities including Lillooet, Merritt, Princeton, Lower Nicola, Tulameen, Lytton, and a number of others. It is important to note that all these communities fall within the Fraser Nicola.
Merritt is also a major ranching hub. Ranch country extends throughout the riding to all corners. Along with the Cariboo, we are proud of the ranching roots in this riding.
In addition, Merritt is also located between two major copper mines. Merritt residents work in or provide services to both Highland Valley in Logan Lake to the north and Copper Mountain in Princeton to the south.
Beyond a natural resource bond, there is a healthy relationship between Merritt and Princeton. We are just over an hour drive from Princeton. We share a school district. School District 58 basically made up of Merritt and Princeton. We share tradition. Princeton and Merritt have been in the same riding since before we can remember.
I ask that you please reconsider your decision to move Princeton out of our riding. Please respect our history and traditions.
I believe Hope does not have the same connection with Merritt as Princeton. It’s farther away and has a more natural linkage with Chilliwack. Hope is a forestry town but it’s coastal forestry is not Interior. Hope has no mining or ranching. They are a Fraser Valley community and should remain there.
In reading the report from the Commission I see the commission would like to move Knutsford into Kamloops. I anticipate local residents could see this as a positive move.
As far as increasing population in the Fraser Nicola, we could gain more rural population near Kamloops. Savona is a rural community, close to Ashcroft and Cache Creek and could fit in quite nicely with the Fraser Nicola.
The Trans Canada Highway between Kamloops and Cache Creek is driven regularly by Fraser Nicola residents – essentially we are already connected to Savona. I believe Savona would be a welcomed addition to the Fraser-Nicola district.
Thank you for your time and receiving my solutions and inputs for our riding of Fraser-Nicola.