I have lived in Merritt for 25 years. I am a businessman and own a furniture store in Merritt and a partnership in another in Kelowna. I support the recommendations contained in your Preliminary Report as they pertain to Fraser-Nicola. I wrote to the Commission in November last year and urged commissioners to remove Hope from Chilliwack-Hope and add it to Fraser-Nicola. You listened to my views and of others who expressed the same sentiments. I want to thank you for that.
As a furniture retailer I keep a close track of my customer base at the Merritt store. Although most of my customers are residents of Merritt, a whopping 40% of my customers are from out-of-town communities. They come from Princeton, Logan Lake, Douglas Lake, Spence’s Bridge, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Lytton, and also from Lillooet, Boston Bar, Yale and Hope. These communities all belong together. Merritt is a trading “hub” for all these smaller communities surrounding the town. As mentioned in your report these communities share common interests. They have the same economy that is dependent on forestry, mining and tourism. A big portion of my clientele is First Nations people from the N’laka pamux Nation. The N’laka pamux people live all across these small towns mentioned above. Including Hope in Fraser-Nicola will provide more effective representation for the Fraser Canyon communities.
Initially, I was of the opinion that Princeton should stay within Fraser-Nicola. Now, I see the logic behind Princeton’s move to Boundary-Similkameen in order to bring the latter’s population closer to the provincial average. Princeton will fit in nicely with the other small communities like Osoyoos, Oliver, Grand Forks and Okanagan Falls.
Although there are others wanting to reverse your recommendations, but they offer no solutions for Fraser-Nicoal and for Boundary-Similkameen. I respectfully ask the Commission to keep stick with the changes you recommend for Hope and Princeton.