Thank you for taking the time to receive feedback from Members of the Legislature. Below is my written submission for consideration.
When the Commission started its process, I did not realize that there would be considerable focus on the Boundary riding, as there seems to be.
According to the 2011 census information, Boundary would continue to fall within the “Plus or Minus” 25% population threshold. However, I recognize that the Commission has now opted to utilize population estimates from BC Stats that place Boundary beyond the minus 25% threshold.
So let me start my arguments by dealing with population. I personally find it surprising that Boundary’s population is said to have declined from 2011 to 2014. Boundary does not appear to those who live in it as a shrinking or declining area.
A major factor about our region is projected growth. A 378 unit prison is being constructed on Osoyoos Indian Band land. With that brings jobs, and with jobs brings families. Overall, economically, tourism is on the rebound and our wine industry and vinyards are world class. We are optimists about the future, therefore, it is all the more surprising that the Commission’s report shows us laggards when it comes to population growth.
In closing on population, these factors may provide some perspective for the Commission as it looks at where to draw the line.
Returning to the boundaries of Boundary, I believe constituents are pleased with the status quo. While I am pleased you were able to visit Princeton, if you had had a chance to visit Osoyoos, Oliver, or Grand Forks, I’m sure you would have heard a general view that residents support our riding as is.
In past years, Oliver and Osoyoos were absorbed by Penticton while Keremeos and Grand Forks were jettisoned west and east. Combining these areas into the Boundary riding creates a rural riding of compatible communities that has a much different make-‐up than ridings with a dominant urban centre.
Your Commission recommended that Princeton be absorbed into the Boundary riding. Let me be clear that if Princeton did become part of Boundary, I would work very hard to represent them if elected in 2017.
Princeton has its linkages with Boundary, however, I have also been listening to the views of Princeton’s mayor and to my colleague, the member for Fraser-‐ Nicola, about Princeton’s connection to Merritt and other communities in Fraser-‐ Nicola. I am not in a position to advocate for or against Princeton being in
Boundary, other than to say that I trust you will be guided by the views of Princeton itself.
If you do not place Princeton in the Boundary riding, you may ask how best accommodate a perceived need to adjust our riding.
My response is to not adjust our boundaries. Leaving Boundary as is allows you to leave Penticton as is; which suits both of our communities. My riding already extends up Highway 33 as far as Big White.
The population numbers are clear, you could balance our population with the Okanagan ridings to the north. You could, but that does not mean you should.
There would be no increase in the number of seats nor would there be any increase in the external boundary of the seven ridings the stretch between Shuswap and Boundary. With no overall change, who will be offended outside of this region? Within this seven-‐seat region, will anyone be offended that Boundary is at minus 27% or minus 28%? I strongly doubt it. I think there is solid support to recognize communities of interest from Shuswap to Boundary.
I have discussed this with my colleague, the member for Penticton, and we agree that the status quo is the best option.
Linda Larson, MLA Boundary-Similkameen
M: (250) 608-1589