Name change coming for Westside-Kelowna provincial riding

The only local change proposed by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission is to change the name of Westside-Kelowna to Kelowna West.

Voters living in the provincial riding of Westside-Kelowna will see the name of the riding change to Kelowna West for the 2017 B.C. election.

That’s the only change being called for the three Central Okanagan ridings by the provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission in its final report to government.

On Thursday, Attorney General Suzanne Anton introduced a bill to adopt the commission’s final report, which recommends two new ridings be added to the current 85— one in Surrey and one in Richmond/New Westminster—and changes be made to electoral boundaries in 48 existing ridings around the province.

Westside-Kelowna is currently represented in the B.C. Legislature by Premier Christy Clark.

In its report, the three-member commission said while it received varied input for the ridings in the Kelowna area, including substantial changes to boundaries to more closely follow school catchment areas and not cross Okanagan Lake, it held off because the populations of the Kelowna-Lake Country, Kelowna Mission and Westside-Kelowna (Kelowna West) ridings are similar.

“We were not convinced changes would achieve more effective representation,” wrote the commission.

The report predicts when the 2017 B.C. election rolls around, the populations of the three Central Okanagan ridings will be:

• Kelowna-Lake Country—61,113

• Kelowna-Mission—60,403

• Kelowna West—59,750

The commission also held off making any changes to the two ridings north of Kelowna-Lake Country, Vernon-Monashee (where a change was proposed in the commission’s preliminary report) and Shuswap, and to the riding south of Westside-Kelowna, Penticton.

The commission is, however, calling for the addition of two new ridings inthe Lower Mainland that would bring the provincial total to 87.

The commission says the current ridings in Surrey and the Richmond/New Westminster area are now more than 25 per cent above the provincial average in terms of population.

The commission, which must review B.C. riding boundaries after every second election, was made up of B.C. Supreme Court judge Thomas Melnick, former RCMP commissioner Beverley Busson, and B.C.’s chief electoral officer KeithArcher.