My name Dear Commission Members:
is Paul Simon. I am a Medical Doctor and have been living in Merritt for twelve years.
I have followed the work of the Commission on the Internet. I have also had a chance to review your Preliminary Report with its recommendations for boundary changes for the province, and for the Cariboo-Thompson Region I live in. I believe the Commission has done an excellent job with your research and the changes that you recommend. I support the changes. Here are my reasons of support:
1. Re-instating Hope and its surrounding communities into Fraser-Nicola based on “community interest” and “effective representation” is the right thing to do. Hope and the Fraser Canyon belong in our riding and should never have been removed because of the political interference from the Legislature in 2008.
2. Hope and its surrounding Indian Bands and Yale, Spuzzum, Boston Bar and Boothroyd have historically been tied to the small, rural communities of the Southern Interior since BC joined Confederation in 1871 right until 2009. Since 1966, the Yale-Lillooet electoral district included Hope, Merritt, Princeton, Lytton, Lillooet, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Logan Lake, Princeton and 27 Indian Bands, including the 20 Indian Bands of the N’laka pamux Tribe. All these communities shared a common geography, history, resource economy, tourism, transportation links, and a rural way of life. This has not changed over the decades.
3. Hope has more in common with communities along the Fraser, Thompson, and Nicola Rivers to the North and East of it and not with Chilliwack. Chilliwack is a larger urban centre that is growing fast, has multiple provincial and federal agencies and departments. Chilliwack’s economy is mainly agriculture, plus a booming housing industry, bringing with it problems related to policing and managing urban growth. Meanwhile, the smaller towns like Hope and Fraser-Nicola communities are fighting job losses, de-population and cuts to health care, education, court-houses, post offices, legal aid, government offices and agencies, and other needed public services.
4. Re-instating 12,000 people from the Hope and Fraser Canyon area into Fraser-Nicola again allows the Commission to take the Princeton area with its 5,000 people and add it to Boundary-Similkameen riding to deal with the shrinking population base there. Princeton will fit in nicely with their new riding as they share common community interests. Princeton will continue to have effective representation in Boundary-Simiklameen as it does in Fraser-Nicola because it is also a rural constituency.
5. Moving Hope and Fraser Canyon out of Chilliwack has also allowed you to effectively deal with the population growth issue in ridings in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Cloverdale, and Surrey.
There is a partisan campaign taking place inline and on-the-ground in the eastern Fraser Valley arbitrarily rejecting the Commission’s findings. The question is: WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE?
If Hope stays put in Chilliwack, how do you solve the over-growth and under-growth issues in the southern part of the province, especially in Boundary Country? Do you eliminate Boundary-Similkameen altogether by splitting it between Penticton, West-Kootenay and Fraser-Nicola? Do you do a complete re-draw of the electoral map starting in Boundary working your way west all the way to Richmond and, thus, risk upsetting the apple-cart and two million people to boot? I don’t think so.
You have done a fair and independent assessment and offered positive and workable solutions. I support your report. Please do not bend to partisan pressure and change anything back to the status quo.
Dr. Paul Simon