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Electoral Boundaries Commission suggests small changes to local ridings

B.C.’s Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) suggested a minor change for Kootenay East and Columbia River Revelstoke.

EBC officials said the only change is focused around the outskirts of Cranbrook.

“To better balance the population between the Kootenays ridings, we propose extending the southern boundary of Columbia River-Revelstoke to take in the western outskirts of Cranbrook,” said EBC officials.

The preliminary proposal suggests keeping the main core of Cranbrook in Kootenay East, but the outskirts along the north, west and south boundaries of the city will be moved into Columbia River-Revelstoke.

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The local MLAs feel conflicted about this proposal.

“It would seem that I would be taking some of the rural and western areas on the outskirts of Cranbrook,” said Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok. “If that’s the way it’s going to play out, I’m proud to represent those folks. We’re a rural and remote riding and I get rural needs and rural folks.”

The representative for Kootenay East commended the EBC on what he feels they did well.

“I think the boundary commission did a decent job at identifying the need to keep rural representation intact,” said Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka.

That said, he does not see the changes to his riding in the same light as Clovechok.

“When I see what they’re proposing for Kootenay East, I’m a little troubled by that, I’ll have to say,” said Shypitka. “Columbia-River Revelstoke will encompass or encircle Cranbrook. That means I would not be representing folks in Gold Creek Silver Creek, and Jim Smith areas where they’re directly next to the municipality.”

Shypitka noted that he feels Clovechok will be a good representative for those residents. That said, Shypitka feels that it would be inconvenient for people living in the outskirts of Cranbrook when they want to meet their MLA in person.

“I think the Electoral Boundaries Commission are trying to balance out population, but they’re not considering the practicality and the logistics of what they’re doing when they re-jig the map,” said Shypitka. “I don’t know if that’s practical, but it is doable. I’m not going to split hairs on that.”

Clovechok feels somewhat different about the proposed changes.

When it comes to in-person meetings, Clovechok said there will be ways around any inconveniences, such as his Kimberley constituency office, if the changes stick.

“Kimberley is pretty close and there’s lots of people who contact us in other ways,” said Clovechok. “Columbia River-Revelstoke is a pretty big place, it’s about the size of Switzerland, and we’ve been able to manage our constituents’ needs and concerns fairly well. For those people, there will be a convenience issue, Tom is completely right, but we’ll figure it out.”

Officials note that these findings are preliminary, and public consultation is still needed before the final electoral boundaries are drawn.

You can read the full report through the link below. The section pertaining specifically to the Kootenays starts on page 91.

More: Electoral Boundaries Commission Preliminary Report

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