Map of Kootenay East riding. (Source: Elections BC)

Boundary review could impact rural representation: Shypitka

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said efforts to remove rural riding protections would damage rural representation

The Kootenays are at risk of losing seats depending on the outcome of a review of provincial riding boundaries recently announced by the provincial government, according to Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka.

Under proposed changes put forward by the BC NDP government, protections for rural ridings in B.C. would be removed, while at the same time up to six new ridings could be added to the existing 87.

Shypitka said that while he has no issue with electoral boundary reviews, the proposal to remove protections was troubling for rural communities where small populations are spread over large areas.

“Clearly there’s a desire to reduce the rural seats in B.C. and increase the urban ones,” he said.

The Kootenays are mandated to retain four ridings under the current rules for electoral boundaries. Together with northern B.C. (eight ridings) and Thompson-Cariboo (five ridings), 17 ridings in B.C. are shielded from being stretched to include a similar number of voters to the rest of the provinces ridings. When the protections were introduced in 2014, MLAs across the party divide agreed that the larger more regional ridings could not be allowed to get any bigger while having only one elected MLA.

Shypitka said that this protection was vital to rural communities by ensuring ridings in areas with smaller, spread-out populations were small enough for representatives to be able to properly cover them.

Shypitka said that the move by the government is political, given the spread of party control across the rural ridings in the province.

“To repeal the protection for certain rural ridings is obviously a play on reducing the number of rural seats which are predominantly held by the B.C. Liberal Party.”

Of the 17 ridings protected, 14 are held by the B.C. Liberal Party, including two in the Kootenays.

The number of registered voters in the protected ridings can vary hugely from the numbers in more urban ridings.

The riding of Stikine in Northern B.C. had only 13,240 registered voters in the last provincial election, but covers the entire north west corner of the province, while closer to home in the Kootenays, both Kootenay East and West had about 30,000 voters each, while Nelson-Creston had 27,000 and Columbia River-Revelstoke had 23,000.

In contrast, urban ridings such as Vancouver-Mount Pleasant had over 41,000 voters, while Surrey-Cloverdale had 39,000 and Kelowna-Mission had 45,000.

According to the B.C. NDP, an increase in the number of ridings would allow greater representation for areas with growing populations.

Shypitka said that the impact of boundary reviews for urban ridings were minor compared to the damage done to rural ridings, given that including only a few extra thousand voters could mean hundreds of miles of extra territory, which would reduce a representatives ability to cover their entire riding and awareness of all the different issues in each community.

“Those are big changes when you’re talking rural ridings. In the urban ridings its a couple of city blocks – maybe a kilometre. The issues across communities in (urban) ridings are quite similar. When you get 400-500 mile ridings … those issues are much more diverse.”

Under the proposed changes, no riding in B.C. would vary from the average number of registered voters by more than 25 percent.

In the 2020 election, there were 3.15 million registered voters in B.C. Divided between the existing 87 ridings, each riding would need over 36,000 registered voters to be evenly spread across the province.

READ MORE: B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politics

Just Posted

The ‘official’ opening of 2nd Edition Coworking in downtown Fernie, a project five years in the making by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Left to right: Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber Brad Parsell, incoming President of the Fernie Chamber Norm Fraser, outgoing President of the Fernie Chamber Anita Palmer, and Mayor of Fernie Ange Qualizza. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Chamber cuts the ribbon on 2nd Edition

The new coworking space in Fernie is now ‘officially’ open, but has been operating since early 2021

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks with the new AED SaveStation installed at the Sparwood Leisure Centre. (Contributed by District of Sparwood)
Sparwood installs public AED

The SaveStation was installed thanks to a grant from CP Rail

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

“Gift card scam,” and “grandparent scam” are on the rise, Cranbrook RCMP say

Folks are falling for these scams: “No Government agency or reputable company will ever ask anyone to pay with gift cards in lieu of their fines”

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read