Deadline Approaches for Citizens to Weigh in on Electoral Boundary Changes
August 30 is the deadline for citizens to have their say on the proposed new federal electoral boundaries which would put Nelson and Salmo in the East Kootenay riding of Kootenay-Columbia, separating them from Castlegar, Trail, and the north shore of Kootenay Lake.
Areas A, B, C, and G of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) would also be moved to Kootenay-Columbia.
The 2012 Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia will hold public hearings in Nelson and Castlegar on October 2 and 3, but anyone wishing to present at the hearings must register by August 30.
One presenter at the hearings will be Salmo Mayer Ann Henderson, who doesn’t like the idea of being separated from Castlegar and Trail.
“We are connected to the tri-cities and we want to stay there,” she told The Nelson Daily. “We have a geographic, economic, and social corridor here.
“They call Salmo the hub of the West Kootenay for good reason,” said Henderson. “It’s 40 kilometers to all three cities from here.”
Hans Cunningham, who represents Area E (the area around Ymir) on the RDCK board, agrees.
“If we moved Castlegar and Trail to the East Kootenay too it might be OK. The problem is we are partners and this would divide us and this is not good. We are trading partners and people travel back and forth between the communities to work.”
With the proposed boundary changes, “we will become a little pocket. We are all united on this,” Cunningham told The Nelson Daily, referring to the other RDCK directors.
The proposed changes could potentially break up an NDP power base in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail.
There are also concerns in other parts of the province that the proposed changes will strengthen the Conservatives’ fortunes in B.C.
“I have heard those theories about gerrymandering. I don’t know whether I subscribe to them though,” says Cunningham.
“I have heard them,” says Henderson. “Maybe there is something to it, and maybe there isn’t. Who knows?”
NDP MP Alex Atamanenko has said he doesn’t think politics enters into it, and that the proposed changes are simply an attempt to even out the numbers in the ridings.
He told The Nelson Daily this week that "everyone I have talked to is against the changes. We hope the commission agrees with us."
The hearings in Nelson will be at the Best Western on Ocotber 2, and in Castlegar at the Fireside Inn on October 3, both at 7pm.