The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission will be holding a public meeting beginning at 9 a.m. in the banquet room of the Sandman Inn in Quesnel, and at 3 p.m. at the Cariboo Memorial Complex in Williams Lake.
Nitya Iyer, a BC Supreme Court Justice and the Chair of the Commission, says their role is to make recommendations on proposals for changes to electoral districts for the next provincial election.
While the underlying principle in a democracy is representation by population, she says they will looking at other factors as well.
“We’re also told that we need to look at geographical factors such as the size of the electoral district, in terms of the geographical size as well as the population size. Accessibility, means of communication and transportation are other factors, and the goal is to achieve what I might call effective representation by population.”
Madame Justice Iyer says they are also hoping to hear from people about their communities of interest.
“Where they live in the province and what other communities they are closely tied to in terms of where they go to shop, for medical services and things like that because that is really, really useful local information that helps us figure out where to put the boundaries.”
Iyer says they have heard some very different views from people so far about how to balance geographical factors with demographic factors.
“There is no question in this province that there are large concentrations of people in urban areas, and much sparser concentrations in rural and remote areas, but those areas have very significant land mass associated with them and that is going to be the challenge for any electoral boundaries commission.”
Iyer says in general rural and remote communities have expressed concerns about losing representation.
She says no decisions have been made yet.
“After we complete our initial public consultation we’ll draft our preliminary report with our preliminary views about how electoral districts should be revised. I should note that we can also increase the number of electoral districts by 6 to 93, instead of the existing 87. So we’ll publish that, hopefully in the fall, and then we’ll have a second round of public meetings to get input from people about the changes we proposed.”
A final report is due by April of 2023, and the legislature will then decide on what actually happens.
Iyer says it is important for people to provide input, and she says there are other options besides in-person.
“We have a website which is www.bcebc.ca, so people can make submissions on that website. There is a new mapping tool where people can actually redraw the lines of electoral districts and see what the impact is on the area. The other thing that we’re having for the first time is virtual meetings. The two that are upcoming, one is on May 3rd and the other is on May 13th.
Those meetings will be on ZOOM.