Queensborough could join new federal riding
Queensborough could be separated from the rest of New Westminster on the federal riding map if proposed boundary changes are adopted.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia is proposing Queensborough become part of the new Richmond East riding. It is currently part of Burnaby-New Westminster, but the commission’s draft boundaries put mainland New Westminster in a New Westminster-East Burnaby riding, which would include southeast Burnaby (the area north of Griffiths Drive from 10th Avenue to Kingsway, then Sperling to the freeway, which would be the northern border).
Since 2003, New Westminster has been served by two ridings, Burnaby-New Westminster, currently held by the NDP’s Peter Julian, and New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody served by New Democrat Fin Donnelly. Eighth Street divides the two ridings.
“Separating Queensborough away from New Westminster and putting it with Richmond, is that an appropriate approach? My sense from the community is no, that isn’t,” said Julian.
He noted in 2002, the redistribution called for New Westminster to be joined with North Surrey, but eventually that was rejected after negative public feedback. This time around, he’s already experienced some community recoil at the proposals, just released last week, while at Canada Day events.
“A lot of people came up and expressed some real concerns about what they consider to be very strange groupings,” said Julian.
Donnelly said he was surprised because the proposed changes are significant, and if adopted will put him in a tenuous position, although “it’s preliminary to be too worried.” He noted in the last election he was in a close race with Conservative candidate Diana Dilworth, winning by a margin of 2.5 per cent of the vote. He got a great deal of support from New Westminster in that campaign so if the redistribution were to take effect, next time it could put him in a tighter race with the Conservatives.
An analysis of the redrawing of the electoral map of Burnaby-Douglas, he said, to include a portion of North Vancouver District, would likely have meant a Tory victory instead of NDP, but Donnelly said he hopes the Tories aren’t meddling with the process.
“I’m hoping that’s not the case. I’m hoping the commission is independent, objective and fair,” said Donnelly. “I like to feel confident in the process. I will trust the process, and provide as much input as I can as well after hearing from the community and their thoughts.”
The electoral commission will hold public hearings about the proposed changes throughout the fall, including one at the Inn at the Quay in New Westminster on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. Another is set for Donnelly’s riding, the Executive Inn on North Road in Coquitlam, the next day, 2 p.m. The weekday afternoon is not ideal, said Donnelly, because it won’t be accessible for those that work.
If 2002 is any indication, the feedback from hearings will have an impact on the final product, said both MPs.
“I wouldn’t in any way think this is a done deal,” said Julian.
Anyone wishing to make a presentation at a hearing or submit a comment should do so in writing no later than Aug. 30. For more information go to http://bit.ly/LngY2J.
– with files from Wanda Chow