New federal riding boundary map puts downtown Kelowna back in

But the redistribution commission decides to keep the area of the city from Highway 97 to Mission Creek in the new riding the west.

Kelowna got its wish when it came to redrawing the federal riding boundary for Kelowna-Lake Country — sort of.

While Mayor Walter Gray made an impassioned plea to keep downtown Kelowna and Old Glenmore in the riding when the federal redistribution commission passed through town in the fall, the final decision settled on by the commission earlier this week does just that. But the area south of Harvey Avenue, between Highway 97 and Mission Creek, adjacent to Okanagan Lake, was not so lucky.

It will become part of the new, largely rural riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, which includes a huge swath of the southern Interior stretching from the Canada-U.S border to just south of Kamloops. The reconfigured and newly named riding includes  such diverse areas as Keremeos, Princeton, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelonwa, Merritt and Logan Lake and part of the Mission area of Kelowna.

“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.

Currently, downtown Kelowna is part of the provincial Westside-Kelowna electoral district, not the provincial Kelowna-Lake Country riding or the Kelonwa-Mission riding.

In October, when Gray appeared before the commission, he objected to losing what he called the “heart” of his city, its downtown, in the original proposal to make downtown Kelowna part of the new riding that takes in West Kelowna and points south. He suggested keeping downtown and the area south of Harvey Avenue as far as Mission Creek in the Kelowna-Lake Country riding.

But based on trying to balance population in ridings, and taking into account the new Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding, which replaces much of the existing Okanagan-Coquihalla riding, the commission felt it had to include some portion of Kelowna. The new riding will have a population of 104,398, while Kelonwa-Lake Country will have a population of 110,051.

As part of the redistribution of riding boundaries in B.C., the province will get six new ridings starting with the 2015 federal election. They will be created in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. It will bring the number of B.C. ridings to 42.

The commission said because of the addition of the six new electoral districts, it was only able to preserve the original boundaries of three of existing ridings: Vancouver East, Victoria and Okanagan—Shuswap (renamed North Okanagan—Shuswap). Minor changes were made to Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Prince George—Peace River, Cariboo—Prince George and Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

The rest were drastically altered.

In the southern Interior,there will be six ridings, the same number there are now, and they will be known as Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, Kelowna-Lake Country, Kootenay-Columbia, North Okanagan-Shuswap and South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

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