Council to present its views on proposed riding redistribution
New Westminster city council will make a formal presentation to the Electoral Boundaries Commission of B.C. detailing its objections to proposed federal riding changes.
The commission’s initial proposal calls for a New Westminster-East Burnaby riding in which all of the mainland portion of New West would be included to be called New Westminster-East Burnaby. Currently the city is served by two ridings, Burnaby-New Westminster and New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody.
However, the commission is proposing New West’s Queensborough neighbourhood become part of a new riding called Richmond East.
One of the objections NDP supporters have to the realignment is New Democrat MP Fin Donnelly, who narrowly won New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody in 2011, would likely lose support if New West was lopped off. At the same time, Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian, who had a much larger margin of victory, would gain the NDP support Donnelly would lose even though most observers believe he wouldn’t need it. The net result would likely be a loss of a riding for the NDP while the Conservatives, whose candidate Diana Dilworth narrowly lost to Donnelly, would benefit.
“It’s supposed to be an independent commission, but the advantage always seemed to go to the government,” said Coun. Bill Harper. “We don’t want to make any changes. Just leave New Westminster alone.”
In addition, Harper said Queensborough doesn’t belong in a riding that would be overwhelmingly Richmond-oriented.
“We see Queensborough as a fundamental part of New Westminster,” said Harper. “It’s becoming more dense and more multicultural in its density and we don’t want to see it hived off.”
Harper said he knows one of the commissioners personally and knows he’s an objective type, so he has hopes the commission will listen to the public, including the City of New Westminster’s submission, during hearings scheduled this month and next.
One of the hearings is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., at the Inn at the Quay. There will be another the next day (2 p.m.) at the Executive Plaza Hotel on North Road in Coquitlam, as well as in Burnaby on Oct. 18.