I was born and raised in Merritt and have lived here all my life. I follow politics quite closely and have seen many changes in British Columbia. Some I like and some I don’t. I must say, I like your boundaries report.
I have carefully read your Preliminary Report in its entirety, and I am satisfied that you have done an excellent job re-aligning the electoral boundaries of provincial constituencies. I may not agree with all recommendations in the report; however I do support your report and am impressed how you managed to balance the need to add populations to some constituencies with diminishing populations, while carefully adding new seats and removing the necessary number of people from high-growth communities without disrupting the political atmosphere. Each change that you have made is explained very informatively.
For instance, taking Hope and area with its 12,000 people out of the Chilliwack-Hope and adding it back to the under-populated Fraser-Nicola constituency is the right change. Hope’s community interests will be better served again in Fraser-Nicola, which was known as Yale-Lillooet prior to 2009. Your report mentions the concept of “more effective representation” for the people of the Fraser Canyon and Hope as one of your reasons for doing so. I agree as Hope, Lillooet, Merritt, Lytton, Merritt and Logan Lake are all similar small communities facing identical challenges like job losses, population decline, fighting cuts to health care, schools and other public services. Chilliwack is much larger and has the luxury, not the problem, related to an expanding construction economy and resulting growth management issues.
By adding the Fraser Canyon (which begins at Hope) back into Fraser-Nicola, you managed to free your hands and take Princeton out and add it to Boundary-Similkameen. Now, alternatively, you do not have to dismantle Boundary-Similkameen like the Wood Commission did in the 1990s. Again, this meets the test of “community interest” and “effective representation.”
By making the necessary changes to Fraser-Nicola and Boundary-Similkameen you further managed to effectively deal with growth pressures in the Fraser Valley and Surrey by moving all electoral boundaries westward with little or no disruption.
Finally, you have also listened to the voices of Aboriginal people by re-uniting the entire Nlakapamux tribe within the boundaries of one electoral district, Fraser-Nicola. This is a huge deal for First Nations people and the Commission members deserve to be commended for your actions. Since Yale is once again a part of our riding it ought to be renamed Yale-Lillooet again for the reasons many other presenters have so eloquently called for.
Again, you have a really good job with your initial report and I support it fully. Thank you.