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Public says no to BC-EBC

The local meeting with British Columbia's Electoral Boundaries Commission (BC-EBC) saw a consensus among participants not to change our boundaries or the number of MLAs serving our area.

The local meeting with British Columbia's Electoral Boundaries Commission (BC-EBC) saw a consensus among participants not to change our boundaries or the number of MLAs serving our area.

About 15 members of the public came out to the BC-EBC meeting where Commissioner Stewart Ladyman asked what changes if any the Sunshine Coast should see regarding riding boundaries and the number of MLAs serving our area.

The consensus of the group was not to let the Sunshine Coast be lumped together with West Vancouver because "the Coast has nothing in common with that area."

"Our connection is more to Powell River than anywhere else for very obvious reasons we have the same common interests they almost mirror each other, and our rural attitude is the same," said Alice Lutes who attended the Saturday meeting.

Many echoed Lutes' comments and said they were happy with how the riding is set up now.

When asked if more MLAs should service our riding, the consensus was no, with some noting the current 79 MLA system makes for difficult debate at times in the legislative assembly.

One man said he has sat in the legislative assembly before and questioned if there was room for any more MLA seats in that room. His comment was greeted by applause from local MLA Nicholas Simons, who was present as an observer and noted the room is "tight as it is."

The goal of the BC-EBC is to create effective representation in the legislative assembly by making sure that each MLA represents roughly the same number of people. However, since the province is densely populated in some areas and sparsely in others, a single MLA can be responsible for covering hundreds of kilometres to service the same number of people as in the denser downtown core areas.

The BC-EBC will talk to local residents throughout B.C. to find out if the current boundaries and number of MLAs are appropriate, and if not, will look at changing it.

They must provide two boundary scenarios - one for the first-past-the-post voting system now in place and one for the single transferable vote (STV) system that could be adopted in 2009 by referendum. If the STV system passes referendum, it would be used in the 2013 provincial general election.

Under the STV system, voters can select as many or as few of the candidates on each ballot as they choose. That could result in up to seven MLAs voted in per district, and those district boundaries would be larger, much more like the federal boundaries now in place.

The BC-EBC has been tasked with drawing proposed B.C. STV electoral boundaries to be used in the 2013 provincial election.

Some at the meeting took exception to this, noting the STV boundaries should not be part of the commission's mandate and that it implies the STV system will be adopted by voters in 2009.

One man also stated that changing the boundaries would be confusing enough for voters without adding the STV system into the mix, which is generally a mystery to many and failed to be adopted by voters in May 2005.

He worried all of the proposed changes could deter an already dwindling younger generation of voters from heading to the polls."I just think you should make as little change or impact as possible to keep those potential voters," he said.

An electoral boundaries commission must be established after every second provincial election, approximately once every eight years; however, this commission has the extended mandate to propose STV boundaries.

Ladyman thanked everyone in attendance for their comments and noted he heard the Sunshine Coast concerns "loud and clear."The BC-EBC should have their new proposed boundary drawings done late in 2006 and a preliminary report released by Aug. 15, 2007.

For more information or to make a submission to the BC-EBC, go to