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Big White electoral boundary still a slippery slope

Resort still in the Boundary-Similkameen riding
The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission from left, Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer (chair); Linda Tynan, local government management consultant, and Anton Boegman, B.C.’s chief electoral officer. (Thom Barker photo)

There is still a possibility Big White could change provincial electoral ridings.

Although a preliminary report by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission (BCEBC) released Oct. 3 still has the ski resort in the Boundary-Similkameen riding, chairperson B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nita Iyer said they will revisit the issue.

“We need to look at that, we will look at that,” she said. “Whether or not we decide to change which riding Big White is in, in terms of our proposal we will give an explanation that addresses that concern. That’s our responsibility to go back to people who have taken the time to express their views to us.”

The commission was in Kelowna Oct. 19 to receive public input on its preliminary report regarding proposed changes to electoral ridings in B.C. It has had several public submissions previously, asking that Big White be moved into a Kelowna riding. Caroline Miller with the Kelowna Chamber told the commission the organization would still like to see that change.

“Most of the property owners at Big White, we believe, are residents of the Central Okanagan rather than being residents farther east in the Similkameen,” added Miller. “Adding Big White to the Kelowna ridings would much better align the development to the local economy…having an MLA closer to the people that he or she represents would be a positive for those living in the Big White area.”

Kelowna councillor-elect Gord Lovegrove spoke to commission members about a proposed, new provincial riding (Kelowna Centre) for the city.

He asked if they would consider pushing the northern section of the boundary from Scenic and Sexsmith roads farther north to align with John Hindle Drive and Glenmore Road.

“It becomes a physical marker for voters,” said Lovegrove. “UBCO, did you want to include that, then connects to the UBCO downtown campus.”

New Kelowna Centre provincial riding as proposed by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission. (Photo/Capital News)
New Kelowna Centre provincial riding as proposed by the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission. (Photo/Capital News)

The BCEBC reviews electoral ridings after every second provincial election and is proposing six new ridings in its report. The change would bring the total number of seats in the legislature to 93. Justice Iyer noted the recommendation is a response to B.C.’s population growing by more than 300,000 people over the past five years.

The commission has until April 3, 2023, to present its final report to the B.C. Legislature, which will then decide whether to accept some or all of the recommendations.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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