Greetings! My name is Arne Zabell.
I have lived in the Sunshine Valley on the Hope-Princeton Highway for the last 16 years. I am a past two (2)-term Regional District Electoral Director Representative for the Fraser Valley Regional District from 2002 – 2008. I am currently self-employed as a business consultant.
I thank you for allowing me this opportunity to air my views. I responded to the commission’s call before Christmas and had a friend read my presentation at the Abbotsford meeting in October. At the time, I supported those who called for Hope and its surrounding communities, including First Nations villages, to be removed from Chilliwack-Hope and put back into the former Yale-Lillooet riding known as Fraser-Nicola. I still whole-heartedly support that view. You heard us and did the right thing. I fully support your decision.
As a former Regional District Represenative, I understand only too well how little influence Hope and the Fraser Canyon communities really had when dealing with the Fraser Valley Regional District. The regional board is dominated by the much larger City of Chilliwack, Mission and Abbotsford. The same frustrations were also felt by constituents living in Hope and its surrounding communities when they, too, could not effectively compete against the urban lobby of Chilliwack residents within the provincial electoral district of Chilliwack-Hope. While currently represented by an outstanding MLA, competing needs are difficult to overcome. When we were a part of Yale-Lillooet we received the necessary attention from our MLA (regardless of political stripe) because all communities in the riding, like Hope, Merritt, Lillooet, Lytton, Cache Creek, Boston Bar, Sunshine Valley, Spences Bridge and Logan Lake were small and rural in nature.
While Chilliwack is pre-occupied by its urban growth, agriculture, and crime-related issues, the rest of us in Hope and the small communities (mentioned above) are struggling to keep our resource and tourism-based economy afloat in the face of government cuts to health care, education, policing and other vital public services. We can deal with our common problems much more effectively within a re-constituted Yale-Lillooet constituency containing small communities and common interests than we can in a constituency currently dominated by the bigger city of Chilliwack.
Again, I want to state my full support for the Commission’s decision to re-instate Hope and surrounding area to its rightful former constituency to the north and east.
Thank you for your time.