I want to thank the Electoral Boundaries Commission for all your hard work. You have done a real good job or redrawing boundaries where needed and adding new ones in order to make sure effective representation did not go out of balance. You heard from people all across the province and responded to their concerns, AND kept your independence.
This is my 50th year living in Merritt. I have travelled extensively in every part of the province, especially in the southern interior, the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. I am very familiar with the rural and urban communities. I have also participated in every electoral boundaries commission starting with the Thomas Fisher Commission of 1988, the Josiah Wood Commission (1999), the Bruce Cohen Commission (2007) and the current Thomas Melnick Commission (2014). The one thing that has always stood out is how every independent commission has always been able to get it right in its initial report every time when redrawing boundaries or adding new one where population is growing.
That is not to say there are some very minor alterations in moving the odd polls back and forth between electoral districts to deal with local issues. However, there has never been a wholesale redrawing of the electoral boundaries as some self-interested or partisan groups want to happen.
I support to thank the Commission for your Preliminary Report that puts Hope and the Fraser Canyon back with Fraser-Nicola, Going back on this recommendation would upset the whole apple cart. Hope is the kingpin to all the boundary changes recommended in your report. It allows you to effectively realign boundaries in both the eastward and westward directions. When you put Hope with Fraser-Nicola again, it also made it possible for you to take Princeton out and add it to Boundary-Similkameen to bring its population quotient within your mandate of 25% deviation. By the same token, it also made it possible for you to make minor shifts in the electoral boundaries in the westward direction starting with Chilliwack and continuing right through to Surrey-Delta to deal effectively with areas that were growing too fast.
If Hope wasn’t shifted into Fraser-Nicola that would have left you with the Boundary problem that I talked about at the Princeton Public Hearing. Although the opponents of your report want to reverse all changes they offer no solution for the Boundary Question. The only solution then is left is the one that faced the Wood Commission in 1999 – that is to go back to the Regional Boundaries that particular commission created. That would mean taking Boundary-Similkameen apart and attach its member communities to neighbouring constituencies: a) all territory East of the municipal boundary of Osoyoos would be attached to the Kootenay –West Electoral District; b) the Cawston, Keremeos, Ollala, and Hedley area would be added to the Fraser-Nicola Electoral District; and c) the remaining towns of Osoyoos, Oliver and Okanagan Falls would be eaten up by Penticton to re-form the Okanagan-Penticton Electoral District. The Okanagan Region is not protected and would be within your mandate.
Former MLA Jim Rabbitt made a presentation in Princeton. Even though he argued that the proposed changes for Ffraser-Nicola be reversed again, if one listens to his presentation online carefully, as I have, his entire argument supported the thesis many others and I have made in the fall last year and in this year’s hearings that Hope and the Fraser Canyon belong in Fraser-Nicola, and not in Chilliwack with which it has very little in common other than shopping or goods and services and going to the regional hospital there. These activities will continue regardless as they doi for those of us who live in Merritt vis-a-vis Kamloops.
The final point I would like to make is a question: “What is in a name?” The answer is: “Nothing, unless that name is a misnomer.”
The name Fraser-Nicola is a misnomer, especially since Yale is being re-instated. The name should go back to its rightful name of Yale-Lillooet since both historic towns “Yale” and “Lillooet” are being re-united in one constituency again. There is ample precedence in BC electoral history to name or rename constituencies based on names of historical towns. Yale and Lillooet are also two of the original names of initial 12 constituencies. Boundary-Similkameen and Surrey-Green Timbers were able to get their old names back in 2008. I would ask the Commssion to do the same for Yale-Lillooet. Thank you for your time.
Harry Lali, Merritt.