My name is Peter Vogt. I am the President of the Nicola Valley Teachers’ Union. I have lived in Merritt since 1990. I have had the opportunity to look over your Preliminary Report on electoral boundaries re-distribution for BC, especially the section pertaining to the Cariboo-Thompson Region.
I support the changes made to the Fraser-Nicola electoral district. Initially, I was not happy with Princeton being left out, but your logic for including it with Boundary-Similkameen – citing “community interest” and “effective representation” – is a sound one. Princeton has always been more closely associated with communities to the east of it than to the communities of Merritt or Hope. Fixing the problem in Boundary-Similkameen related to its population deviation was only made possible when Hope and the Fraser Canyon with their 12,000 residents were added back to Fraser-Nicola. Since the Hope area has traditionally been a part of Yale-Lillooet (as Fraser-Nicola was historically known) it made total sense to put it back. Hope and Fraser-Nicola communities have always had common community interests. Re-attaching Hope and the Fraser Canyon will again give its communities more effective representation as stated in your report.
I fully understand that parts of the Lower Mainland, such as Richmond and Surrey, definitely needed additional seats to deal with the population growth there. Moving all of the electoral boundaries westward from Boundary-Similkameen, through Fraser-Nicola, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley also became possible because of the changes made in the Hope area. This is a good report and I have no issue endorsing its recommendations. Those individuals wanting to reverse the changes in Chilliwack-Hope and Fraser-Nicola fail to comprehend the enormity of the task of going back to the drawing board for the Commission. They also fail to offer any positive alternatives where to find the necessary population to add to Boundary-Similkameen, which is over the 25% population deviation from the provincial average.
One of the most important things to consider is how the First Nations peoples of this region feel about electoral boundary changes. During the initial phase before Christmas and also during the current stage the Aboriginal presenters and submitters, namely the N’laka pamux people, have been universal in their call to the Commission to re-unite their entire N’laka pamux Tribe within one provincial electoral district as they were in Yale-Lillooet and its fore-runner constituencies for nearly 140 years since BC came into Confederation. The N’laka pamux are a distinct “community of interest” and their views are important to this process. The Commission has listened to their views when you re-united all 20 N’laka pamux Bands again
The communities of Yale and Lillooet hold special places in the history of this province, just like Vancouver, New Westminster and Victoria. “Yale” and “Lillooet” were two of the original 12 constituencies in this province. In 1966, after 95 years the remnants of these two historic constituencies were united into one to form Yale-Lillooet Electoral District, which essentially remained unchanged until 2009, when political interference from the BC Legislature arbitrarily divided it into two. This was not a very popular move with locals, especially First Nations, as many accused the government of gerrymandering in the independent work of the Commission. Since this historic provincial riding has been reconstituted, to essentially include a vast majority of its former territory, please restore our historic name Yale-Lillooet as well.
Thank you for your consideration.