Re: Preliminary Report – Proposed changes to Boundary-Similkameen - BC Electoral Boundary Commission
Thank you for accepting my online submission, particularly as you enter into final stages of considering electoral boundary changes. I am a long-time resident of the Oliver area and observed the previous changes in boundaries over the last several years. The boundaries that we have now make the most sense to me based on demographics.
My riding of Boundary-Similkameen has morphed into a complex, unique riding. The MLA has a big job. There are four municipalities, a number of school districts, and dozens of small towns and unincorporated areas.
After reading your report, I have to disagree with the Commission’s findings. I believe the riding of Boundary-Similkameen should remain unchanged. Growing the boundary, and adding another school district, is the wrong decision. Below are my supporting arguments.
Adding another Town will not effectively benefit Boundary communities. It just provides added travel for the Boundary MLA. Princeton has always worked closely with Merritt and Ashcroft. The airport is in Ashcroft. The forestry office is in Merritt. It is clear our communities do not associate with the same rural communities that Princeton associates with.
While I am not a statistician, I feel that population estimates alone should not dictate new boundaries for the Boundary-Similkameen. Our unique climate and economy is such that we experience sharp increases and shifting populations throughout the year. For example, over a four month period, the population in Osoyoos doubles, creating more work for the MLA in this riding alone. Today, many baby-boomers are choosing to relocate to the Okanagan’s warmer climate and more and more are deciding full-time residency is the most practical and affordable option. Ultimately, this will bring more population into the riding.
Future Growth / Population
As far as new growth and population boosts, there are a variety of new housing projects and a large correctional facility breaking ground. The correctional facility alone will add almost 240 new employees (local residents), 350 or so new inmates (also registered voters), and a number of additional spin-off jobs in areas like construction. Other examples of housing developments include;
• Canyon Desert Golf Villas (Oliver) – 450 Villas (stage 2 commencing in Winter 2105)
• Gallagher Lake Village Park (Oliver) – 100 homes
• Osoyoos Indian Band racetrack with trackside condos – Phase 2 coming soon
• Riverside Place (Oliver) – 30 condos
• The Cottages on Osoyoos Lake – 18 cottages
When I review data from 2014 population estimates it show Boundary’s population would still be much higher than many other ridings in rural BC. And certainly while some of these ridings can be larger in geography, they still fall much lower than Boundary in terms of population numbers.
I would strongly request that you make a special exception to the population requirement, to allow the riding of Boundary-Similkameen to remain as is. This approach serves not just Boundary but all neighbouring ridings and their special community interests.