B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko is concerned about the federal government’s proposal on riding reconfigurations.
The proposal would put Nelson in with the Kootenay-Columbia riding, and split Keremeos into two.
“The west of Keremeos would go into the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding and we would gain Penticton,” noted Atamanenko of the initial proposal of the Federal Electoral Commission. “What they’ve done is a numbers game on the surface but there is many other factors to take into consideration.”
Atamanenko pointed out that the possible changes also have to do with the drop in population in the Kootenay-Columbia riding.
“One of the criteria the commission uses is Communities of Interest,” he said. “We have Nelson, Trail and Castlegar, which is sort of our tri-cities here that work together on a number of projects.”
The MP also noted the Chamber of Commerce works together as well and it doesn’t make sense to separate the three cities.
Another point Atamanenko raised is the ability for residents to have access to an MP.
“If that MP weren’t living in Nelson, residents would have to go to Cranbrook, or Golden or Revelstoke, which is another criteria – the accessibility of a member of parliament which has to be taken to consideration,” he said. “They tried something similar to this before the 2004 election and tried to move the City of Penticton in and move some of the Slocan Valley but what they heard was that it wasn’t a viable thing. So there is a historical precedent over this because people do want to keep the status quo, which is workable. I’m able to work with people in my office and the riding now and any changes to that would be detrimental.”
Atamanenko added that residents have up Tuesday, Oct. 30 to register to take part in the hearings that will be taking place and are also invited to submit written submissions.
“I’m hoping to talk to people to get their input such as mayors and other people in the community who think this isn’t the best way to go,” he concluded.
The proposed measure, Bill C-20, by the federal Conservative government, would expand the House of Commons to 338 seats, with 15 new seats for Ontario, six new seats each for Alberta and British Columbia, and three for Quebec.
For more information, visit elections.ca.