Proposed riding boundary changes would see Delta residents represented by three different MPs following the next federal election.
On Monday, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia 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 new electoral district would be in the Southern Interior between Vernon and Kelowna and called Vernon-Lake Country.
“Our task is to create an additional riding and to adjust the boundaries of existing ridings to maintain effective federal representation for all British Columbians,” Justice Mary Saunders, chair of the three-member commission, said in a press release.
Saunders said the commission is proposing quite a few boundary changes, mainly in response to significant but uneven population growth.
“That growth pattern creates a domino effect if we are to be fair and have relative equality between voters in different electoral districts,” Saunders said. “Our proposal necessarily gives attention to what is possible and practical given our varied and rugged geography and our distinct communities. We look forward to receiving public input on it.”
The commission’s main aim in redrawing boundaries is to divide the province into electoral districts that are as close to the electoral quota (population divided by number of allocated seats) as reasonably possible, while taking into consideration “communities of interest or identity, as well as historic and geographic factors,” according to press release.
Data from the 2021 census shows B.C.’s population increased from 4,400,057 in 2011 to 5,000,879, giving B.C. an electoral quota of 116,300.
The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley’s 26 electoral districts already have an average population close to B.C.’s electoral quota without adding another district, however uneven growth in the region means boundary adjustments spreading out over multiple ridings are needed to avoid significant under- and over-representation.
The current riding of Delta covers the whole of the city and the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN), with a combined population of 110,711, according to the 2021 census — 108,455 for Delta and 2,256 for TFN. That’s an increase of 6.9 per cent over 2016’s combined population of 103,054 (102,238 for Delta and 816 for TFN).
Just over 70 per cent of the population (78,282) was registered to vote in the 2021 federal election, and about 67 per cent of registered voters (52,605) cast a ballot.
Under the proposed changes, TFN and the bulk of South Delta would still be part of the Delta riding, though areas north/east of Highway 99 and the South Fraser Perimeter Road — including Tilbury and Annacis Island — would be added to the renamed constituency of Richmond East. The current ridings of Steveston-Richmond East and Richmond Centre (which would be expanded to include Steveston and re-dubbed Richmond West) are under quota and have been since 2012.
North Delta would be split between the ridings of Delta, Richmond East and Surrey West. Along with Tibury and Annacis Island, North Delta from Highway 91 to 112th Street and 72nd Avenue up to the Fraser River would become part of Richmond East, as would the Queesnborough Landing area of New Westminster.
The area from 112th to Scott Road and 72nd to 96th Avenue would become part of Surrey West, while all parts of the community south of 72nd would remain part of Delta.
As well, parts of Newton and Panorama Ridge in Surrey would be added to the Delta riding, from 72 Avenue in the north to the railway line parallel to Colebrook Road in the south and as far east as King George Boulevard.
The updated Delta riding would have a population of 117,020. Richmond East would have a population of 116,764, and Surrey West 115,780.
The full proposal can be found at redistribution2022.ca.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. is holding 27 public hearings in June and September to gather comments and feedback on the proposed boundaries and related changes to some electoral district names.
In Delta, a hearing will be held at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn (1665 56th St.) on Thursday, June 9 starting at 7 p.m.
Other nearby hearings will be held at the Richmond Oval on Sept. 12, the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel in Surrey on Sept. 13 and at the Inn at the Quay in New Westminster on Sept. 14. There will also be a virtual hearing online on Sept. 28.
Those wishing to make a presentation at a hearing must give notice to the commission no later than one week before the hearing they wish to attend, either by mail (Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia, 1055 West Hastings Street, Suite 300, Vancouver, B.C., V6E 2E9) or email (email@example.com), by filling out a notice form online or by using the interactive mapping tool at redistribution2022.ca.
The commission’s report must be finalized by December of this year, 10 months after receipt of the census population data, which was released publicly on Feb. 9.