Regarding Proposed changes to electoral boundary changes affecting Abbotsford
Attached as PDF as well.
Thank you for the tremendous efforts made to review how to carry out so many changes to the electoral system.
I have reviewed the rationale for not significantly changing the electoral boundaries of the three defined regions, ie: Cariboo-Thompson, Columbia-Kootenay and the North. It was noted that those regions are significantly well represented, and that the boundaries are very well defined and not changing significantly. There is insufficient explanation as to why only two additional electoral districts may be added for the entire province, but I accept that 87 is the number, and that the commission is faced with significant challenges to re-distribute what remains in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
Hats off to Surrey and Richmond for gaining one district each; though I must say perhaps it may have made more sense to add one riding in the east and one in the west so as to avoid having to split up ridings so drastically and push everything east into Abbotsford. That said, Chilliwack already fared better than Abbotsford, as Hope went back to the Nicola.
My criticism is simply that there is a significant issue with how Abbotsford has been broken up. The current three electoral districts only have one which combines an area from another municipality. (Abbotsford-Mission) The voter quotients of the existing three ridings are all within +/- 3% of the average, and all together, are only 2% higher.
The proposed changes will break Abbotsford up into five ridings – four of which will be split amongst other municipalities. Even with these drastic changes, the voter quotient variances will also rise to +10.4% on average.
In comparison, and excluding ridings in the three defined regions, all the remaining 65 electoral districts in the province average a voter quotient variance of +7.2%. To be fair, if I look at just the subset of the remaining 43 ridings in only the Lower mainland and Fraser Valley, the voter quotient is exceeded by 9.2%. The defined regions ridings are enjoying things pretty much the way they were, at the expense of ridings in the south. There must be a way to ease this, even if just a little.
I would propose that Abbotsford be broken up into four ridings only – with only two (ideally) or a maximum of three that share areas with another municipality.
Chilliwack’s two proposed ridings both have negative variances compared to the voter quotient. Chilliwack-Kent should be enlarged slightly, up to perhaps +5% variance. Chilliwack-Sumas should then be changed to a larger split – with more area in East Abbotsford included. Of course, a new name would need to be adopted, perhaps Chilliwack-Abbotsford East.
Abbotsford-Mission and Abbotsford Centre are largely correct in my opinion, with only small adjustments required as a result of the aforementioned changes.
The challenge is then how to eliminate splitting West Abbotsford up with both Fort Langley and Aldergrove. It would make sense to have an Aldergrove-Abbotsford West riding I think, and then the Fort Langley and East Langley areas must be re-defined slightly. Having shifted some of the population into the two Chilliwack ridings already, I would anticipate some wiggle room to divide the Langley/Aldergrove/Abbotsford West ridings among natural boundaries while still being able to reduce the voter quotient variance marginally.
In summary, the proposed changes to the Abbotsford ridings are not acceptable, and I would request that the Commission review the opportunity to make substantial changes, and not break Abbotsford up into five mixed municipality ridings.
Thank you for your consideration.
434-33473 Old Yale Road