Where do you live?
The question may seem odd during this federal election campaign, but thanks to a change in boundaries affecting the Kelowna-Lake Country riding on the east side of Okanagan Lake and the new Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding—the majority of which is west of Okanagan Lake—the question is important for some Kelowna residents.
That’s because in addition to a vast swath of the southern Interior that includes such diverse communities as West Kelowna, Keremeos, Merritt, Princeton, Summerland and Logan Lake, the sprawling new Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding also includes part of the city of Kelowna.
While Okanagan Lake was used as eastern boundary for the former Okanagan-Coquihalla riding the last time riding borders were reconfigured 10 years ago, this time population, not water was used to separate the two ridings that cover the Central Okanagan.
So, a triangular area with the lake on one side, Harvey Avenue (Hwy 97) and Dilworth Drive on another side and Mission Creek on the third side has been added to the ridings formerly known as Okanagan-Coquihalla. The apex of the triangle is the corner of Springfield Road and Dilworth Drive in Kelowna, across the street from Orchard Park Shopping Centre.
There, residents living east of the intersection are in Kelowna-Lake Country, while residents living to the west, between Harvey Avenue and Mission Creek, are in the new Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding.
And that has already lead to some confusion for voters trying to figure out who the candidates are that they will to chose from come Oct. 19.
In an attempt to clarify who is running where, Conservative Dan Albas, Green Party candidate Robert Mellalieu (Central Okanagan-Similameen-Nicola) and Conservative candidate Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country) teamed up last month for a news conference to try and make it clear.
At the time, both Albas and Mellalieu said they had already encountered some confusion by residents about which riding they now lived in.
In recent days, with campaigns shifting into high gear now that summer is basically over and more election signs popping up, the delineation between the two ridings in Kelowna has become clear along Harvey Avenue.
There, drivers pass by signs for Kelowna-Lake Country candidates on one side of the road and signs for Central Okanagan-Simikameen-Nicola candidates on the other side.
The inclusion of the area of Kelowna south of its downtown core, including the area around Kelowna General Hospital and south Pandosy, came about after former Kelowna mayor Walter Gray made an impassioned plea to the federal redistribution commission when it held a hearing in the city in 2013.
At that time, the commission was proposing to include downtown Kelowna and part of Glenmore in the new riding, a move Gray said would tear the “heart” of his city out of a federal riding that included the rest of Kelowna. He suggested keeping downtown in the Kelowna-Lake Country and making Harvey Avenue the northern boundary for the portion to be included in the of the new riding.
The commission agreed, saying it could meet its population quotas for both ridings by adopting Gray’s suggestion. It said Kelowna-Lake Country would have just over 110,000 residents, while Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola would have just over 104,000 residents.
“By transferring a portion of the City of Kelowna to the new district of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, the commission has been able to maintain the north and east boundaries, as well as portions of the west and southern boundaries of the existing Kelowna—Lake Country electoral district,” said commission’s final report.
As for the impact the changes will have on voting patterns, that remains to be seen.
In the 2011 federal election, incumbent Conservative Ron Cannan took 58 per cent of the vote, while his NDP challenger Tricia Kalmanovitch took 21 per cent, Liberal Kris Stewart 11 per cent and Green Alice Hooper eight per cent.
For more information about the two ridings, go to Elections Canada’s webpage (elections.ca/home.aspx) and type in your postal code. That will pull up information about the riding and a map of the riding boundaries.