My name is Marcia Cooper. I am retired and have lived in Merritt for 34 years. I have seen a lot of change in the region. I have had a chance to read the recommendations in the Preliminary Report for boundary changes in the Fraser-Nicola constituency. I support the proposed changes.
Hope and the Fraser Canyon belong with Fraser-Nicola. The Hope area was historically a part of our provincial constituency known as Yale-Lillooet for almost 35 years from 1966 to 2009. Your recommendation to re-instate Hope into Fraser-Nicola is something I agree with and can defend based on the fact that these communities – Hope, Yale, Boston Bar, Merritt, Logan Lake, Lillooet, Ashcroft, and Lytton – all share commonalities or “community interests” as mentioned in your report. They all have long-standing geographic, historical, transportation, cultural and economic linkages with each other.
We are a resource-driven area of the province that is now witnessing resource sector job losses and public service cuts to health care, education, justice, social services and much more. When you look at Chilliwack, they have a thriving vegetable and ground fruit-based agricultural economy coupled with a major housing construction boom. Chilliwack is growing fast, while Hope and other rural small towns are losing population to urban centres. The differences between Hope and Chilliwack far outweigh any similarities. Your report correctly points out that Hope and the Fraser Canyon will have “more effective representation” within the boundaries of Fraser-Nicola.
Princeton is a community that could easily fit into both Fraser-Nicola and Boundary-Similkameen. Your report makes a good case to include Princeton with other small communities like Keremeos, Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls where it will continue to enjoy effective representation.
In closing, I want to thank the Commission for your hard work in presenting a report that is fair and balanced.