My name is Mr. Piara Samra.
I want to thank the Commission for this opportunity to present my ideas on electoral boundaries. I have lived in Merritt since 1969. I take a keen interest in politics. I was elected as Councillor for the City of Merritt from 2005 to 2008.
I have read your Preliminary Report and support the changes you have made to electoral boundaries in the southern part of BC, including Fraser-Nicola. It is a well-researched and well thought-out report. I made a submission last fall. I am glad you have listened to my opinion and those of others. I believe it is a good idea to make some changes in the Hope area. Hope, Yale, Spuzzum, Boston Bar and North Bend were previously removed from Yale-Lillooet. Re-instating them to Fraser-Nicola is a good proposal, as we have so much in common with those areas. There was no one dominant community in Yale-Lillooet during that time and no community felt that they were being left behind by the MLA of the day. Almost all parts of the constituency are accessible within one hour of driving from Merritt, the geographic centre of the riding.
As I stated in my previous submission before Christmas, while others have talked about geographic, historic and economic similarities between the communities in Fraser-Nicola and the old Yale-Lillooet, I want to talk about the very important link that our youth provide through school and sports. I am a teacher, and as teachers we always try to line up activities with schools from communities similar in size as our own, and not from larger communities.
Merritt’s community sports competitions and school-related activities for youths and students are mostly with youths and students in the other small communities in our region, such as Princeton, Logan Lake, Ashcroft-Cache Creek, Lytton, Lillooet and Hope. Strong bonds of friendship and friendly competitions are often formed by youths and students, as well as their teachers and parents, as they routinely meet up during these mutual activities. It is rare that we would hold mutual activities with schools from Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton or Chilliwack, as our students and youth often feel intimidated by them. I can understand why the residents of Hope would feel intimidated by the power and influence of Chilliwack in that constituency.
Hope and the Fraser Canyon would be an excellent fit with Fraser-Nicola again. Adding the 12,000 people from Hope and the Fraser Canyon into Fraser-Nicola frees up the Princeton area to be added to Boundary-Similkameen. This would not be made possible without the changes made to Chilliwack-Hope. I agree with your rationale for both Hope and Princeton pertaining to joining towns and villages that share common “community interests” with each other and for providing “effective representation.” Having Hope added to Fraser-Nicola definitely provides for more effective representation for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples residing in Hope and the Fraser Canyon. These changes also help to shift the electoral boundaries starting in the Fraser Valley and cascading all the way to Surrey in order to deal with population growth pressures there.
Again, I support the findings and conclusions in the Preliminary Report. This is a very fair report.