I am writing with regard to proposed boundary changes to the Chilliwack-area provincial ridings.
From 1993 to 2011, I had the honour to represent different configurations of federal ridings based in Chilliwack and including areas, at various times, from Abbotsford to Hope and up the Fraser as far as Lillooet.
During that time, I represented riding boundaries that made sense and, sometimes, boundaries that made a lot less sense.
At one time, for example, my riding terminated just east of Chilliwack. My colleague, who represented Okanagan-Coquihalla, had his riding extend all the way to Popkum, near Chilliwack. Residents of the eastern Fraser Valley, whose services revolved around Chilliwack, were represented by a Member of Parliament based in Penticton while I was literally just miles away. The reality was that my office served many of them, because when they needed help I was a lot closer.
I refer to this example based on my review of the proposed provincial election boundaries.
It is proposed that the current riding of Chilliwack extend west into the eastern outskirts of Abbotsford known as Sumas. This was done once before and the previous commission changed it, for good reason. Sumas is oriented toward Abbotsford.
Second, it is proposed that Hope and Boston Bar be moved into the adjacent Fraser-Nicola riding and out of the current Chilliwack-Hope riding. I have represented Hope and the Fraser Canyon. My view is that these communities are much better associated with the Fraser Valley. I say this, in part, because I believe people in Hope up to Boston Bar know more people in the Fraser Valley than communities in the Interior. There are better social, business and community connections, therefore, I believe these communities will feel better represented in an area that is more relatable to them.
The regional district boundary reflects this but so does simple geography. Hope and Boston Bar are closer to Chilliwack on easier highway. The previous commission got it right when they re-aligned the ridings to reflect true community interest. It is my view that if the proposed boundaries are instituted, Hope and Fraser Canyon residents will continue to seek support from Chilliwack-area MLAs regardless of the boundary, and I do not believe that is an ideal outcome nor what you would intend.
When I was an elected Member of Parliament, I closely observed redistribution many times. The balancing of rep-by-pop with geography is a defining aspect of BC’s political map and, for the most part, it is done very well.
Your task at least does not have to be thankless – your efforts in ensuring the most effective representation for British Columbians is appreciated and critical to building public trust in our democratic institutions. I hope that my contribution might spur some thoughtful consideration of the points I've raised.