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HomeRegional NewsNewsUPDATED: Changes proposed to Kootenay West riding boundaries

UPDATED: Changes proposed to Kootenay West riding boundaries

BC’s Electoral Boundaries Commission is proposing moving Nakusp, New Denver, and Silverton out of the provincial Kootenay West riding but adding Christina Lake and parts of rural Grand Forks.

The commission’s preliminary report, released Monday, suggests Nakusp, New Denver, and Silverton be added to the Nelson-Creston riding, which would be renamed Kootenay Central to reflect the fact that it contains more than two communities.

Nelson-Creston has been the riding’s name since 1933, and included the Slocan Valley and Arrow Lakes in previous configurations.

To compensate for moving the Slocan Valley communities, the commission is suggesting moving Christina Lake from the Boundary-Similkameen riding to Kootenay West. The latter riding would otherwise remain unchanged.

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Overall the commission suggests retaining the same number of ridings in the region, including Kootenay East and Columbia River-Revelstoke. The exercise is intended to balance out the population between ridings.

“Many people expressed concern that we might propose reducing the number of electoral districts in this area,” the commission wrote.

“Residents pointed to travel and communication barriers that currently impede effective representation. Some stressed the different identities of the East and West Kootenays, and others suggested changes to recognize links between specific communities.”

The commission said it concluded that “effective representation for this area of the province requires four electoral districts” but their proposed adjustments “reduce the differences between the populations of each of this area’s ridings, and bring the population of all four districts within the usual deviation range.”

Kootenay-West MLA Katrine Conroy was unavailable for an interview, but in a statement said she is still reviewing the proposed changes.

However, Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell said he was surprised by the proposal to shrink his riding and, although it could mean somewhat less work for him or whomever is MLA, is unconvinced that it’s a good idea.

“There are some challenges with having to travel an hour over a mountain pass to reach them, or constituents having to travel an hour over that same pass to reach their representative,” he said.

The commission will now seek public feedback on its proposals, including a meeting in Nelson on Thursday, Oct. 20. The deadline for all feedback is Nov. 22, and any changes have to be adopted by the legislature by April, to take effect in the next provincial election.

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