My name is Robert Baird. I have lived in Merritt since1946. I am a retired Electrician from the old Craigmont Mines near Merritt. In the past, I have served as Mayor of Merritt for 4 terms, and Councillor for 4 terms. I am aware of your Preliminary Report on electoral boundaries redistribution. It is a great relief to know that we finally have an electoral commission that has listened to the concerns of people in our constituency and got it right. Good on you for making the necessary changes to Fraser-Nicola!
I accept your recommendation to remove the entire Fraser Canyon including Hope out of Chilliwack and into its rightful place again. Incidentally, the Fraser Canyon actually begins in Hope; hence, the reason the hospital in Hope is called the “Fraser Canyon Hospital”. Hope is the gateway community into Interior British Columbia. Hope belongs in Fraser-Nicola as it did in Yale-Lillooet prior to 2009. Fraser-Nicola is its natural home, not Chilliwack. As per your recommendation for change in Princeton, this community easily fits into either constituency, Fraser-Nicola or Boundary-Similkameen.
Throughout my life and during my days working for the mine, as a union representative, and as an elected municipal leader, I have travelled extensively all across the Southern Interior, the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. There are very, very stark differences between larger urban centres like, Abbotsford, Surrey, Chilliwack, Vancouver, Kamloops, and Kelowna on the one side, and smaller rural communities spread all throughout the Cariboo-Thompson Region on the other side. Your report recognizes that fact.
My experiences have shown me that people in larger communities deal with different issues and possess different needs than do the people in smaller towns. Bigger communities deal with generally stable, expanding, secondary manufacturing and service-oriented economies and have problems related to urbanization and management of population growth. Smaller communities in Rural BC, including Hope, all deal with shrinking, primary resource-based manufacturing and tourism economies and have to deal with the resulting job losses, shrinking populations and cuts to public services, especially to health care and education. It is very evident that Hope has more in common with Fraser-Nicola communities than it does with Chilliwack.
Hope also shares many common linkages with these Interior communities geographically and historically, commencing with Aboriginal trails and trade routes into the river valleys of the Fraser, Thompson, Nicola and Similkameen. Then came the Gold Rush, transportation links (roads and railroads) that followed the historic trails, resource development (mining, forestry, ranching, etc.), and a common rural culture.
I have keenly followed politics my whole life. In 1966, the provincial electoral district, Yale-Lillooet, was created because its member communities – such as Merritt, Hope, Princeton, Lillooet, Lytton, Logan Lake, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Walhachin, Spences Bridge, Kingsvale, Douglas Lake, Lac Le Jeune, Coalmont, Tulameen, Goldbridge, Bralorne, Kanaka Bar, Boothroyd, Boston Bar, North Bend, Spuzzum and Yale – all possessed these common linkages listed above. They met the Commission’s mandate of “effective representation”. Re-instating Hope into this historic riding will, once again, provide more effective representation for the people of the Fraser Canyon.
In conclusion, I support the changes in your report.