I am writing to express my utter dismay at the recent suggestion, brought forward by the B.C. Electoral Boundary Commission, to shift our provincial riding boundary. Changing the riding boundary would effectively move Hope and district out of its current riding, of Chilliwack-Hope, into the Fraser-Nicola riding that extends up to Merritt.
As a proud resident of Hope, Chamber of Commerce President, and a major franchise owner in Hope's main business district, I must say that this move makes no sense, both for Hope-area businesses and its residents. Over the years Hope been a struggling community and is at a crossroads, both economically and geographically. We in Hope are at the intersection of three major highways, enjoying a brisk trade of visitors and commuters who stop in Hope on their way to and from the interior.
But while Hope is joined by highway with Merritt and Princeton, our orientation has always been to the west not the east. The mayor of Hope serves as a director on the Fraser Valley Regional District, and Hope works closely with the FVRD to develop recreational/ cultural programs, along with fire dispatch and search and rescue. Hope residents drive to Chilliwack, Abbotsford or Langley for their major shopping, or even Vancouver if it warrants the trip.
In terms of representation, Hope is right now well-served by Laurie Throness who has a constituency office in both Hope and Chilliwack. If the riding boundary changes, 6,000 people will be pulled out of Chilliwack-Hope and land in Fraser-Nicola. This is a riding that we share little in common with, other than a major highway that some have described as "The Highway to Hell" especially in winter. If the nearest MLA is in Merritt, how likely are Hope residents to get their concerns heard?
As Chamber President, frankly I believe that severing Hope from the Fraser Valley will cause us even greater economic harm. If you think Hope is struggling economically now, just imagine what could happen if our sitting MLA is an hour and a half away in Merritt. We currently have the ear of Laurie Throness and who knows what will happen if we throw our lot in with Fraser-Nicola.
I attended the meeting on April 14th at the golf course about the proposed changes to the boundaries and I was encouraged to hear Mayor Vicktor speak on behalf of all of Council against Hope moving into the Fraser-Nicola riding. Hope residents need to stand up and speak up for themselves. We need to follow the lead of the district council that recently passed a unanimous resolution to keep Hope in Chilliwack-Hope where it belongs. I hope you'll do the same, by telling the boundary commission NO to any changes to the existing boundaries.
Make your voice heard at http://bc-ebc.ca/speak before 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Stephen Yeung, Hope