Barring any major objections from the House of Commons, it appears that Pemberton and Area C residents will vote with the rest of the Sea to Sky corridor in the next federal election.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of B.C. (FEBC) tabled its report in Ottawa on Monday (Jan. 28), making the recommendation that the Pemberton Valley should be part of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding.
The news was welcomed by local lawmakers who pushed for the change over the past year.
“I think it speaks to the process and I was very glad to see that the commission listened to our arguments and explanation of the orientation of (our) functional community,” said Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy.
B.C. will be receiving six new seats in parliament for the next federal election, which requires a realignment of electoral district boundaries to accommodate the new ridings. The FEBC’s original proposal saw Pemberton remain in a Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding that would expand further north.
Justice John Hall, chair of the FEBC, said it “made sense” to group voters in the Pemberton region with their neighbours to the south.
“Pemberton and the area just beyond it fit in a bit better with West Van than it did with the (Fraser) Valley, so we just moved it where we thought it should be,” said Hall.
Hall noted that the presentations made by Sturdy and Area C director Susie Gimse during a feedback meeting in Squamish in September went a long way in aiding the FEBC’s decision.
“Their input was very useful and helpful, and really pointed out why that decision should be made the way it was,” said Hall. “They are the people who are actually there on the ground, they know what’s going on and it’s that sort of process that the public hearings bring out.”
During that meeting, Gimse and Sturdy pointed out the numerous ties between the Pemberton area and the rest of the Sea to Sky, compared to virtually none with the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding.
“I got the sense from our presentation and the Q and A that followed that they understood it was just a common-sense request on behalf of our community to be returned back to the West Van-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding,” Gimse said Tuesday (Jan. 29).
Under the FEBC’s new proposal, D’Arcy would become the riding’s northernmost population centre. In the FEBC report, Areas A and B of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District remain in the newly-named riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.
A House of Commons committee will now review the proposed changes and make non-binding comments back to the FEBC on its report. The commission may take those suggestions into consideration before submitting a final report to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.
Hall said he does not anticipate the House committee to make any significant comments when it comes to the new makeup of the riding. If it does, he said it’s more likely to weigh in on the new placement of Powell River, which moves from the Sea to Sky riding to Vancouver Island North-Comox-Powell River in the FEBC report.
“I didn’t think, when we finished with West Vancouver, that it would be one of the ridings we’d hear a whole lot about,” said Hall.
Hall said the FEBC anticipates receiving comments back from Ottawa in April, with the commission’s final report likely to be ready in June.