The boundaries of the proposed new federal riding of Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley were widely criticized on Wednesday night, as a hearing to get public feedback was held at Meadow Gardens Golf Club.
The overriding message from the public was to leave Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows alone as a single electoral district, rather than parts of each city being hived off, and lumped into a riding with parts of Fort Langley, Surrey and Port Coquitlam.
Pitt Meadows resident Brittany Lang, who volunteers with a local riding association, pointed out the historic affiliation and shared services in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. These include the Ridge Meadows Hospital, RCMP, Community Services, school district and airport. She also mentioned sports clubs, non-profit groups and the local news media all serve the two cities.
The meeting was hosted by the federal Electoral Boundaries Commission responsible for re-drawing the provinces riding boundaries. Honourable Justice Mary Saunders is chair of the three-member commission, with R. Kenneth Carty and Stewart Ladyman as the other members.
Saunders said the commission members felt the Golden Ears Bridge would create connections between the communities in the proposed riding, and asked whether bonds were forming with Langley.
Lang responded she did not see that happening.
Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Marc Dalton, who has derided the riding as a “dog’s breakfast,” was another who spoke against the proposed boundaries.
He explained the riding would take in parts of five cities, and the MP would have “a tremendous challenge” to represent the residents well.
He favours keeping Maple Ridge and Mission as a single riding, saying they are integrated communities in numerous ways.
“There are very strong connections between both of these communities, that they do not have with Port Coquitlam, for example,” said Dalton.
Commission member Carty noted that the proposed riding of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows would be approximately 6,000 people below the target number of 116,300 per riding. They are not to predict future growth, but are “bound by the census results,” from 2021, he said.
“Our mandate is to make every British Columbian’s vote count equally,” said Carty.
Dalton said if the boundaries of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows need to be expanded, then moving eastward into Mission is the most sensible solution, and would be more consistent with historic political ridings. He served for eight years as the MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission.
Logan Gueck, a Port Coquitlam resident, called the riding a “bizarre semi-urban patchwork,” and asked “Who would be able to call this riding their own?”
He noted that the mayors of the cities involved oppose the new boundaries.
“Let’s try to keep our communities together,” Gueck said. “Keep the Tri-Cities together; keep Ridge Meadows together, keep Langley and Fort Langley together.”
Saunders said “We understand something has to be adjusted, the question is where.”
There is also a proposed Mission-Maple Ridge riding, which would include the eastern half of Maple Ridge, extend east almost to Hope, taking in Mission and Harrison, and north to the area near Boston Bar, but not including that community.
After the meeting, Dalton said he is hopeful that changes are coming.
“I was encouraged. I feel the panel – the chair and commissioners, were very attentive,” said Dalton, and noted that there were 42 adjustments made to boundaries following public feedback in 2012. “I think that bodes well.”
The public hearing was one of 27 public hosted by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. Another meeting is set for the Coast Langley City Hotel and Convention Centre on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. A complete list of B.C. meetings, and other information on the commission’s work, is available online at redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca/
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