Federal electoral boundaries may change

Sooke council disagrees with changing existing electoral boundaries

Council has agreed to combat electoral boundary changes that would see Sooke become part of a proposed riding, labelled the South Cowichan-Juan de Fuca boundary area.

District staff have been directed to write a letter of opposition to the boundary change, which was proposed by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission.

The boundary restructuring would see Sooke, Port Renfrew, Metchosin, and portions of Langford and Metchosin leave the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding for the South Cowichan-Juan de Fuca electoral district.

The neighbouring riding would then be called Esquimalt-Colwood, which would include View Royal, Esquimalt, Highlands, and parts of Colwood, Langford, Saanich and Victoria.

All members of council expressed concern on how the boundary reshuffle effect Sooke residents.

“The boundary changes are often in reference to community interest, and I don’t think the interests of Sooke are the same of the Cowichan Valley,” said Coun. Kerrie Reay.

“I think the Malahat should be used as a natural divider boundary, and I don’t support the change.”

Coun. Rick Kasper stated removing Sooke from the Greater Victoria area, would have implications on Sooke’s economic activities, residents who work in the Capital Region, and social programming that is not applicable to the Cowichan Valley area .

“I would look at this as a major, major step backwards.”

Also in opposition is federal MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca Randal Garrison.

“I personally believe that the proposed boundaries will make it much more difficult for Westhore residents to have their voices heard in Ottawa,” Garrison said, in a letter addressed to riding mayors.

“The portal not only divides the Westshore,  the proposed new riding of South Cowichn-Juan de Fuca will be made up of two very different communities on different sides of the Malahat with potentially very different interests.”

According to Garrison’s letter, the boundary change would introduce an additional seat in Parliament for Vancouver Island.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commisson website states, federal electoral districts are re-evaluated every 10 years based on latest census numbers populations, and assessments on demographic changes that have occurred since the last distribution by provincial commissions.

“Based on their assessment, the commissions make recommendations for alternations in existing boundaries in order to achieve better representation of persons and communities in Parliament.”

To check out the changes to federal electoral districts, visit the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission website, here:  http://bit.ly/SXSNcu