If changes to federal electoral boundaries are made, Penticton would be split in two on Main Street and the Mayor of Penticton didn’t mince words when he called it ‘the dumbest thing’ he’s have seen.
Among the proposed changes are the renaming of the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola to the riding of Coquihalla, removal of Keremeos and South Similkameen from the riding.
This division would include everything west of Main Street Penticton, such as the West Bench area and Penticton Indian Band lands.
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki called the proposal “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, to divide a town like ours.”
Due to population changes according to the 2021 census, a new riding in the interior is being created, which has caused a ripple effect on existing ridings, such as South Okanagan – West Kootenay and the proposed riding of Coquihalla.
Penticton’s mayor and council wrote a letter to the Election Commission regarding their opposition, and the con. James Miller read the letter aloud at the June 13 public meeting regarding the changes.
Potential confusion among residents about which constituency they belong to and who to vote for was just one of the concerns Vassilaki voiced.
Letters from the Penticton Indian Band and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band were also reportedly sent expressing their desire to stay connected with communities in their current ridings.
The carving of the Similkameen has also raised concerns among municipalities in the valley. Letters regarding the proposed changes have been sent by the municipalities of Princeton and Keremeos.
“The Similkameen should remain politically as one entity, because we have all the services within the RDOS and at the provincial level, as well as health care and the school district, so it makes no sense to separate us,” said Mayor of Keremeos, Manfred Bauer.
The Okanagan Similkameen Regional District also sent a letter expressing concern about the division of the valley and formally requesting that the boundaries be reconsidered to keep the region together.
“As a region, the Similkameen share the same history and act as one community, including their two First Nations bands, the Lower and Upper Similkameen Indian Band,” the letter read. “The Similkameen Valley Planning Society provides a platform for all valley governments to promote the valley as a cohesive unit and encourage regional economic development and job creation.
Contacted for comment, MP Dan Albas, who represents Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, said he had confidence in the electoral boundaries commission to do its impartial job, and that he had sent information to voters and created an MP report. for the committee.
“You know, the last time that happened was after the 2011 census, where Summerland and Penticton were separated for the first time since Confederation,” Albas said.
MP Richard Cannings, who represents the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, which includes Penticton, was less reserved in expressing some of his concerns about the commission’s original proposal.
“I think in that case they might have looked to balance the numbers a little too closely and initially not factor in some of the community and social impact that it will have,” he said. -he declares.
He expressed hope that there might be other adjustments elsewhere in the ridings that could be made to avoid the more dramatic change in Penticton proper.
“I’ve spoken to the mayor, I’ve spoken to councillors, I’ve spoken to the Penticton Indian Band, I’ve spoken to various other groups and nobody likes it,” he said. “I hope those voices will be heard.”
Comments can still be submitted and submitted to the Boundaries Commission by mail, email or using their online mapping tool at redistribution2022.ca.
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