Proposed electoral boundary changes could form single Delta riding

Newton-North Delta MP Jinny Sims is concerned about proposed split of two ‘communities of interest’ in her riding

A map shows what the new riding of Delta would resemble if federal electoral boundary changes are made.

Newton-North Delta NDP MP Jinny Sims and Delta-Richmond East Conservative riding president Eric Sykes are polarized over Delta becoming its own riding should federal electoral boundaries proposals be approved.

Staggering population increases in B.C., particularly in the Fraser Valley, has led the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to call for six new electoral districts in the province.

Sykes said rejigging the urban rural riding of Delta-Richmond East just makes sense.

“It’s a long way from the Fraser River in North Richmond down to the U.S. border in Tsawwassen,” Sykes said. “It is a big riding. [There is] increased population responsibility for a single MP.”

Meanwhile, Sims has concerns about severing North Delta from Newton politically.

“I want to make sure that communities of interest are addressed,” said Sims. “For example there are some natural groupings that go together. North Delta has a community of interest. They are sort of with Newton I would say.”

However, Sims concedes that Surrey is growing and there is a need for more ridings in the area.

“We have to address that as well,” she said. “But I think wholesale changes like the ones we are seeing on the [proposed] map are a little bit disturbing for people from what I’m hearing.”

There is also the potential for a shift in Delta’s political landscape.

Current Delta-Richmond East Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who was not available for comment, was elected by a wide margin in 2011. Conversely, the Conservatives registered third in an albeit tight election race in Newton-North Delta.

Home to approximately 51,000 people, North Delta is the city’s most populous corridor.

Ladner and Tsawwassen each have a population of about 20,000 residents.

For the time being, Sims is focusing on her current riding. She will also work with her constituents over the summer to put forth collective input during the public hearing process on the electoral boundaries in September.

Canada’s electoral districts are reviewed every 10 years by independent commissions in each province. Population numbers – as captured in the federal census – as well as geographic and historical factors are considered in the review process.

B.C.’s population jumped from 3,907,738 in 2001 to 4,400,057, says 2011 census statistics.

“As chair of the British Columbia Commission, I shall seek to ensure that designated new electoral boundaries and districts in this province will be fair to voters in terms of representational  equality and regional representation and reflect historic patterns of representation,” said Justice John E. Hall.

Locally, a public hearing has been set for Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn. Those wishing to make a presentation must register by Aug. 30.

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