The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission is proposing to move Christina Lake and parts of rural Grand Forks to a new provincial riding, and local officials are not happy.
Issued in a preliminary report by the commission on Oct. 3, the suggested changes include the areas moving from Boundary-Similkameen to Kootenay West riding.
The change would help “balance the population between this riding and its eastern neighbours,” according to the report.
Grace McGregor, the recently re-elected regional district director for Christina Lake, says adding the area to a new riding is not a good idea.
McGregor referenced that Christina Lake was previously included in a riding with the West Kootenay from 2001 to 2009; however, she said it did not go well.
“We were literally lost in the west coast. So, as the boundary and part of the boundary, we work together very well out here; tampering with that would not be a good thing,” she said.
Rural Grand Fork’s newly elected Regional District director says there must be more discussion before making such a change to ridings.
“It is my understanding that the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s proposal is problematic for multiple reasons, but most significantly, I feel strongly that it would be unwise to surrender our control of the Kettle River watershed,” Linda Kay Wiese said in a statement to the Grand Forks Gazette.
“The challenges around water resources, access to and control of all our water sources loom large as future climate change impacts our area,” she added.
The outgoing director, Danna O’Donnell, is also against the changes proposed by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, saying they “make no sense.”
“Our geography is more consistent with the Boundary; we are a part of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) and have a relationship with the Osoyoos Indian Band,” O’Donnell said in a statement.
O’Donnell also shared concern that there would be insufficient representation by the Kootenay MLA if the change is approved.
The provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission is accepting public consultation and feedback until mid-November. The commission must release a final report by April 3 of next year. At that point, the legislative assembly can decide to accept some or all of the recommendations.