George Christou – Sunshine Valley, BC
I would like to start by thanking the Commission for listening to the views of Fraser-Nicola constituents who called for boundary changes in the Hope area during the initial round of hearings. I agree with your decision in the Preliminary Report to remove Hope from Chilliwack-Hope and to its addition to Fraser-Nicola.
I have been a resident of the Merritt area for 11 years and travel twice weekly through Hope on my way to and from work in the Lower Mainland. Hope and Merritt have so much in common as small resource-based communities, just like the other towns and villages in Fraser-Nicola. I have lived in the Lower Mainland before moving to Merritt. City life is way different than living in or near a small community. In 2008, when Hope was removed from “Yale – Lillooet” and joined with Chilliwack to form “Chilliwack – Hope” I could tell immediately that the experiment would not work. Putting Hope in with Chilliwack would be like putting Merritt in with Kamloops – our interests would be drowned by the bigger more powerful lobby of the city.
Hope and the Fraser Canyon communities have needs, concerns and issues that are very similar to the other smaller communities in Fraser-Nicola, such as Merritt, Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lytton, Cache Creek and Ashcroft. We have common resource-extraction and tourism economies. Hope and Fraser-Nicola communities are all still trying to recover from resource job losses and the cuts to public services like health care, education and other vital services in our towns and villages. Meanwhile, Chilliwack’s economy is booming and the population growing fast.
I am thankful that the Commission has re-considered the changes that were made to Yale-Lillooet in 2008 and is willing to rejoin the southwestern part back into our constituency.
I also support your proposal to move Princeton into Boundary-Similkameen where they needed more people.