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Election map change would 'cut out the heart' of West Van, MP says

The electoral boundaries commission will hear from the public this week in West Vancouver on plans to redraw the map for federal ridings. Another meeting takes place in North Van on Monday.

A proposed boundary change to federal ridings on the North Shore could cut the heart out of West Vancouver and hand it to North Van, the MP currently representing the area says.

Under proposed changes, “you’re cutting the heart out of West Vancouver to add it as an appendage to another riding,” said Patrick Weiler, Liberal MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

Not surprisingly, Weiler is opposed to the plan, as is John Weston, the former Conservative MP for the riding, who recently wrote to the federal electoral boundaries commission, urging them to “keep West Vancouver intact.”

“I haven’t heard from anyone who has an issue with the riding the way it is,” added Weiler.

Under the proposed change, the easternmost part of West Vancouver – including Park Royal, Sentinel Hill and half of Ambleside (everything east of 15th Street) – would be cut from the West Vancouver electoral district and added to the North Vancouver riding.

But that would rob the riding’s largest community of its economic and historical centre, said Weiler.

The redrawn electoral map, which would push boundaries of all three North Shore ridings north and west, is part of a larger jigsaw puzzle being considered by the electoral boundaries commission as it adds one riding to the province of B.C. The additional riding is needed because of population growth in the province and to ensure that roughly the same number of people – 116,300 – are represented by each federal member of Parliament. But the creation of a new riding in the southern Interior, between Vernon and Kelowna, would also have a domino effect of boundary alterations in other areas of the province, including a number of ridings in the Lower Mainland.

The geographically diverse West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding currently has a population of about 131,000. Weiler noted, however, that ridings can be up to 25 per cent larger or smaller than the 116,300 target population.

Under the proposed changes, chunks of Lynn Valley currently in the North Vancouver riding – including much of the area to the south of Lynn Valley Road and upper Lynn Valley to the east of Mountain Highway, as well as Capilano University – would also be added to the Burnaby-North Seymour riding. That riding is itself a product of an earlier redrawing of the election map that created a riding spanning Burrard Inlet.

Politically, removing half of Ambleside from the West Vancouver riding wouldn’t necessarily benefit either Liberals or Conservatives, as the area tends to split its votes between those parties.

Three of the polls that would be moved from West Vancouver to North Vancouver under proposed changes are on Squamish Nation lands.

Weston wrote that if the boundaries commission needs to make a change to the riding, it would make more sense to cut out the Sunshine Coast and add that to the North Island-Powell River riding than to cut out half of Ambleside.

In-person public hearings – where those who have registered in advance can make their views known – happen this Thursday, June 23, 5:30 p.m. at West Vancouver Memorial Library and next Monday, June 27, 7 p.m. at North Vancouver’s Pinnacle Hotel. A virtual public hearing session will also take place Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. The public can also submit comments on the proposed changes by mail, through email at BC-CB@redecoupage-federal-redistribution.ca or online.

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