Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on your report.
My home is the Fraser-Nicola. I am the owner and operator of Kane Lake Ranch, the director of BC Cattlemen's, the president of the Nicola Stockbreeders and an active community volunteer.
I’ve read your preliminary report. And while I appreciate your characterization of Merritt as a rural committee I do not agree that you should remove Princeton – also a rural community – into the Boundary. In addition, I note that you have suggested adding Hope to our riding. It’s surprising that you removed it from Chilliwack. Hope would appear to benefit from much stronger economic and community ties to neighbouring Chilliwack.
As a Merritt rancher, I have no association or close relationship with Hope. Hope is a Fraser-Valley community. Folks travel up for services, not down the Valley. It’s a long and dangerous stretch of highway to reach Hope – especially in Winter months. To try to characterize Hope as small and rural is a major stretch of the imagination.
A little history on how I am connected to my community.
I work with a ranching community in the towns of both Merritt and Princeton. Our ranching operations are strongly linked to both communities. My family knows ranching – and these two communities support each other and are united by a strong ranching heritage. Ranching and mining is the life-blood of Merritt and Princeton. It’s been a part of our economic tradition for decades.
Removing Princeton out of the riding, and placing it into the outer limits of Boundary will mean a slow deterioration of our relationship. Simply stated, your recommendation places a mining and ranching town into an orchard and vacation town. There is no question our social and economic connections will begin to suffer.
I strongly believe Princeton should build on the economic advantage it has with Merritt. New links to transportation terminals, shipping hubs and roads is connecting our communities like never before.
The ranching over the years has changed. It’s alive and well but more challenging than ever. We don’t need any further barriers or boundaries dividing that. We need to be served by one MLA who understands the economics of ranching and mining.
In reading the report, it appears the Commission is stuck on population numbers specific to the Boundary-Similkameen.
However, one must look at the big picture; industry, culture and connectivity
With real-estate purchases on the rise, a rapidly retiring demographic and investments in residential development from the Osoyoos Indian Band and Oliver jail, I believe the Boundary is well-positioned to increase in population. It will not suffer by not having Princeton in the Boundary. But Princeton might suffer when it is divided from Merritt and it’s home.
The Fraser-Nicola does not need to consider population. The Boundary-Similkameen apparently does. Depending on deviation, a questionable need for 1900 or so votes should not be the reason to divide a community and economy. We are a rural riding that includes Princeton and requires stability and continuity in primary industries like ranching to succeed.
Please keep the Fraser-Nicola riding as is. Name and all.
John Anderson, Kane Lake Ranch, Merritt B.C.