Surrey Board of Trade doesn’t like the federal electoral district redistribution plans proposed for Surrey and surrounding cities.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission held public hearings Tuesday (Sept. 13) at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.
In May the commission for B.C. released a new electoral map that, based on the latest census information, adds one riding in the province, increasing B.C.’s seats in Parliament to 43.
The proposed map would also increase the number of Surrey ridings to eight from five, and rename several of them.
SBOT participated in a public hearing at the hotel in Guildford.
“We are opposed to the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries,” said Anita Huberman, SBOT president, “because some Surrey Members of Parliament (MPs) will have to focus on two cities instead of one, limiting the focus and attention that Surrey requires from the Canadian government for city-building infrastructure investments.”
The proposed new riding of New Westminster-Bridgeview would river-hop between Surrey and New West, and would include the area west of 128 Street and north of 96 Avenue in Surrey.
Huberman said the reconfigured Surrey-Centre riding would split the focus between Surrey and New Westminster and would “negatively impact an elected official’s ability to represent the needs of the constituents they serve. Many of the changes do not align with municipal or natural boundaries. There are different needs within each city.”
Currently, Surrey is split into five federal ridings, including Surrey Centre, Surrey-Newton, Fleetwood-Port Kells, Cloverdale-Langley City and South Surrey-White Rock. Two of those ridings, South Surrey-White Rock and Cloverdale-Langley City, include both Surrey and a neighbouring municipality.
With the proposed new map, Surrey would be broken into eight ridings: New Westminster-Bridgeview, Surrey Centre, Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley, Fleetwood-Port Kells, Cloverdale-Langley City, Surrey West, Delta and South Surrey-White Rock.
Huberman says an elected official that represents a riding that straddles two cities “has double the number of organizations, events and investment decisions to listen to and advocate for in Parliament.
“The proposal indicates it is using the Fraser River, key roads, and municipal boundaries to the fullest extent possible,” she said, “however, we disagree that these natural and appropriate boundaries are being considered. Removing a key area in North Surrey and combining it with New Westminster does not reflect the needs of these areas. They are completely different.”
The board of trade asks that the proposed changes be scrapped, “as it will be detrimental to our ability to advocate for our business community.”
In North Delta, that area would be split into three ridings.
Public hearings in B.C. end later this month, with results to be published this fall.