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High hopes commission will keep Queensborough connected to New West
Message heard and received.
The 2012 Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia heard plenty of sentiment for keeping Queensborough connected to New Westminster during a public hearing it held at the Inn at the Quay last Wednesday.
The commission has proposed Queensborough, which is currently part of the Burnaby-New Westminster riding, be added to a riding called Richmond East for future elections.
New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper, who made a presentation to the commission on behalf of the city, came away from the proceedings positive the commission will find a way to keep Queensborough as part of a New Westminster riding.
"How they do that, I don't know," said Harper. "They have to go back to the drawing board to see how they do that."
Harper said the commissioners, headed by Justice John E. Hall, indicated their willingness to adjust to the sentiment expressed Wednesday. That's the same read on the situation New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody MP Fin Donnelly got from Hall.
"He openly said he was leaning toward that. Given there was such a loud message before the public hearing and during the public hearing, I would be very surprised if they [didn't reconfigure the riding]," said Donnelly.
Peter Julian, whose Burnaby-New Westminster riding currently includes Queensborough, went to the meeting with his father Terry, who was chief administrative officer for two previous boundary commissions. Julian said the commission needs to look at community connections and not try to make all ridings have a uniform population of 104,000 people. The commission, which is charged with adding six new ridings in the province including five in the Lower Mainland, has leeway of up to 25 per cent in determining the ridings, said Julian.
The proposed changes would also see Donnelly lose the New Westminster portion of his riding. Along with adding part of North Vancouver to a large portion of the current Burnaby-Douglas riding held by the NDP's Kennedy Stewart, some observers have noted the NDP would have been defeated in both ridings in the May 2011 election.
"I haven't looked at it politically. It's simply a matter of looking at communities of interest. Voting patterns change. Simply looking at voting patterns from election to election are very different," said Julian. "I'm not a big believer in forecasting what's going to happen in an election based on the patterns of previous elections. I'm interested in having communities that relate to each other."
Essentially, said Julian and Donnelly, the commission must find a way to add a fifth seat to four existing ones in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities area.
Donnelly and others suggested combining the Sapperton area of New West along with Coquitlam's Malliardville and the southern portion of Port Coquitlam because they are historically connected by the Fraser River and the railway. The new riding in the area would be created out of Port Moody and Burquitlam—northeast Burnaby and west part of Coquitlam.
"I started my remarks by saying I don't envy the position [the commissioners] are in," said Donnelly.
The commission is continuing its hearings outside the Lower Mainland this week and next before concluding with a session at the Holiday Inn Express Metrotown in Burnaby on Oct. 18 (7 p.m.).