Kelowna’s three Liberal MLAs are proposing a new Kelowna Centre Riding and a fourth MLA in time for the next provincial election.
“The numbers in the Central Okanagan definitely warrant a fourth riding,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick. “If you look at the goal of B.C. Electoral Boundary Commission (BCEBC) on how many people should roughly be in a riding, we are over that with three ridings.”
Letnick added with a population of more than 225,000 currently and the anticipated growth rate over the next two terms of government, which in the mandate of the BCEBC, an additional MLA in the Central Okanagan is arguably warranted.
“At the end of the eight years let’s try to give everyone in the ridings the same access to their MLAs, and try to come up with the same population numbers in each riding.”
Letnick said that with slower growth in the Kelowna-Mission riding, compared to Westside-Kelowna, Kelowna-Lake Country, and the new proposed riding, it would need to start with a larger population number.
“The other three ridings will start with a small number because they’re growing at a faster rate,” explained Letnick. “At the end of the eight years they should be pretty close, and they are. They’re at about 70,000 to 72,000 people in each of the four ridings.”
The new riding would basically be in the center of Kelowna, roughly covering from W.A.C. Bennett Bridge east to Highway 33, and include part of Mission north to near McKinley Landing.
“West Kelowna would (just) be West Kelowna,” added Letnick. “So no more downtown, Glenmore, Pandosy area in the West Kelowna riding, it would go to the new riding. A small part of the Mission would go there as well. Kelowna-Lake Country, because it abuts the new riding, would take the balance.”
Letnick added that the proposed names for the ridings are Kelowna-South, Kelowna-Centre, Kelowna-North, and West Kelowna.
“We invite feedback from the public or directly to the boundary commission,” said Letnick. “Our hope is that we’ve come up with a logical solution and people who present to the boundary commission will be supporting that solution. Or they can present something else. They are certainly not bound by our solution.”
The proposal Letnick and MLAs Renee Merrifield and Ben Stewart have come up with will be going up on their respective Facebook pages. They are also presenting it to Kelowna community leaders and the BCEBC.
“I think it’s incumbent on us as elected representatives to come up with a solution that we can put out there as a trial balloon for people to say ‘yes, that makes sense or they pop the balloon and have their own suggestion for the boundary commission.”
The BCEBC will visit Kelowna and eight other municipalities between April 4 and 8, seeking input from residents regarding ongoing electoral boundaries review, which is required after every two provincial elections. The Kelowna date is April 6 at the Yacht Club.