I understand the challenging task before the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission to ensure that voters throughout BC have equitable representation in government as well as reasonable access to their representative. The Comox Valley electoral district is currently facing a unique circumstance as our community is experiencing considerable and rapid growth.
However, I don't believe that the simplest solution to a problem is always the best solution. I am hearing from voters of all political persuasions in the Comox Valley that they feel the proposed shift of the southern regions of our current electoral district (including Cumberland, Union Bay, Fanny Bay, and Denman and Hornby Islands) to the district that includes Port Alberni, seems short-sighted and out of touch with the nature and needs of our region. The proposed shift would satisfy the population requirements for both districts. However, it would come at what I feel would be a great cost to voters, and appears to be based on convenience as opposed to the needs of the voters in this region.
The above named communities being proposed to shift are distinctly part of the Comox Valley - deeply entrenched both culturally and geographically. We have a common history, and share common issues. The vast majority of our other community organizations (incuding resource mgmt, health, social, environmental, financial) are structured to serve this geographic region intact. And of greatest concern to me is the fact that we have a very high proportion of seniors living in these regions who would find it exceedingly difficult to access their representative, driving challenging terrain through bad weather, and with few public transit options. And certainly many seniors are not comfortable using technology to engage.
Given that we are a rapidly growing community, could we not be planning for the long-term future, and consider a two-district Comox Valley region which would keep representatives in the local area? This current proposal for redistribution seems to be a short-term solution, at best, and would require yet further redistribution as our population continues to grow, causing further disruption and confusion for voters. It is my opinion that the legitimate needs and rights of a voting population trump the need to manage the size of the population. Having an additional district with below-average population for a short period, but that would serve us well into the future, and would preserve the community-based representation I feel is essential in our case, would be a prudent move.