Part I Initial Report to the House of Commons (December 18, 2012) – British Columbia – Decisions on New Boundaries

Decisions on New Boundaries

Before issuing its proposal, the Commission had received a variety of suggestions from the public for the redesign of the province's electoral boundaries. The proposal itself generated a considerable volume of public input into the process. This input continued to arrive beyond the last public hearing.

The advice received by the Commission touched on various subjects, particularly:

  • the maintenance of existing boundaries where possible
  • the division of neighbourhoods
  • the division of neighbouring communities
  • the difficulty of crossing waterways
  • the difficulty of driving in certain weather conditions
  • the importance of municipal and regional district boundaries
  • the accessibility of public transit
  • strict application of the electoral quota
  • the importance of watersheds
  • the realities of living on the coastline
  • socio-economic differences between electoral districts
  • future residential developments and associated increases in population
  • recognition of communities of interest

In this report, the Commission makes substantial changes to the configuration of electoral districts outlined in its proposal and renames electoral districts where appropriate. In general, the reconfigurations are made for the following reasons:

  • to recognize communities of interest affected by the proposal
  • to maintain neighbourhoods within existing boundaries where possible
  • to respect municipal boundaries
  • in recognition of the importance of watersheds in certain electoral districts
  • to substantially utilize regional district and census subdivision boundaries
  • to give less regard to major transportation arteries
  • in appreciation of the coexistence of urban and rural communities

Ultimately, because of the addition of six new electoral districts, the Commission was able to preserve the original boundaries of only three of the existing electoral districts: Vancouver East, Victoria and Okanagan—Shuswap (renamed North Okanagan—Shuswap). Only minor changes were made to Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Prince George—Peace River, Cariboo—Prince George and Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

In conducting its work, the Commission divided the province into the following four recognized regions:

  • Vancouver Island
  • the Lower Mainland
  • the Interior
  • the North

Basic information on the new set of electoral districts and an explanation of changes in each region are stated below. A table showing names, population numbers and variances for all electoral districts in the province is given in Schedule A.

Vancouver Island

Electoral District Population Variance from
Electoral Quota
Courtenay—Alberni 110,391 5.37%
Cowichan—Malahat—Langford 99,160 –5.35%
Nanaimo—Ladysmith 114,998 9.77%
Saanich—Gulf Islands 104,285 –0.46%
Saanich—Juan de Fuca 113,004 7.87%
Vancouver Island North—Comox—Powell River 103,458 –1.25%
Victoria 110,942 5.90%

The Commission's proposal provided for an additional electoral district in the Vancouver Island region, increasing the number of electoral districts from six to seven. The population increase occurred primarily in the south, and the Commission added the new electoral district in the area that had experienced the greatest growth since the 2001 Census. The inclusion of the new electoral district necessitated a review of the other six electoral districts, though revisions would likely have been necessary even without the additional district.

Before dealing with specific electoral boundary changes, the Commission had to consider two very difficult boundary questions. The first was whether Vancouver Island should be viewed in isolation from the rest of the province or in the overall context of the Lower Mainland. The second was how to treat the Malahat portion of the Trans-Canada Highway. Was the Malahat a link or a barrier to the establishment of an electoral district joining the Cowichan Valley with the Capital Regional District? The Commission appreciated that electoral boundary adjustments in this area would be controversial.

In view of determinations made by the previous commission, the existing electoral districts comprising the North Shore and Sunshine Coast areas have populations considerably above the electoral quota. After reviewing the population distribution for both these areas and the northern part of Vancouver Island, the Commission decided in its proposal that it would be appropriate to include Powell River in the reconfigured electoral district of Vancouver Island North. Having made that decision, the Commission focussed its attention on the configuration of other electoral districts on Vancouver Island.

The inclusion of Powell River in Vancouver Island North necessitated a revision to the southern boundary of that electoral district. The proposal therefore divided the City of Courtenay between the existing Vancouver Island North and Nanaimo—Alberni electoral districts. The Commission later received a number of submissions questioning the inclusion of Powell River and the division of Courtenay. It is worth noting that the two areas had, on occasion, been previously joined, once as Comox—Powell River and once as North Island—Powell River. In both instances, the electoral district had included the entire Sunshine Coast. The Commission observes that reasonable access between the North Island area and Powell River is available via BC Ferries.

Several themes became clear from both the public hearings and the written submissions. A number of presenters stressed the strong ties between the upper and lower Sunshine Coast. Given that the 2011 census population of the lower Sunshine Coast was 28,619, the Commission viewed its inclusion with Powell River as unfeasible. Other presenters argued that the lower Sunshine Coast is more directly linked to the Greater Vancouver area. In short, there were conflicting views presented about this area.

After considering the various submissions, the Commission has decided to alter the southern boundary of Vancouver Island North to exclude any part of the City of Courtenay. Comox remains in this district, which is renamed Vancouver Island North—Comox—Powell River. The entire City of Courtenay is now contained in an electoral district named Courtenay—Alberni.

In reviewing submissions and presentations with respect to the two existing electoral districts that constitute the central portion of Vancouver Island, namely Nanaimo—Alberni and Nanaimo—Cowichan, two themes were significant. The first was the very strong view of Cowichan Valley residents that Cowichan Lake ought properly to be linked to Duncan, not Nanaimo. The second was the view that the City of Nanaimo should be located in a single electoral district.

As a result of these submissions from the public, the Commission has made substantial revisions to the two electoral districts. The addition of the City of Courtenay to the north end of the existing Nanaimo—Alberni electoral district (now Courtenay—Alberni) required changes at the south end of the district. Consequently, all parts of Nanaimo are now transferred to the reconfigured electoral district of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, which includes Lantzville.

Following the proposal, substantial changes to the existing Nanaimo—Cowichan electoral district have resulted in a number of boundary alterations in the South Island area. Cowichan Lake and most of the Cowichan Valley are now included in the reconfigured electoral district of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. In its proposal, the Commission had used the Trans-Canada Highway as a boundary, dividing Langford between two electoral districts. With this revision, Langford is kept whole at the southern end of the Malahat.

A number of submissions described the Malahat as a dangerous portion of the Trans-Canada Highway and, as a result, did not support the idea of an electoral district being linked by the Malahat. In addition, many viewed the southern part of the Island as comprising a distinct community of interest. The Commission was told that many residents of the Cowichan Valley commute on a daily basis to the Greater Victoria area. Whether one starts designing electoral boundaries from the northern or southern end of Vancouver Island, the two approaches inevitably converge at the Malahat because of the uneven distribution of the Island's population.

In response to a number of submissions, the Commission revisited the design of the area covering a major portion of the Capital Region. The reconfigured electoral district of Saanich—Juan de Fuca now includes that part of Saanich containing the municipal hall and the adjacent western communities of Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Metchosin and Sooke.

The Commission received a number of submissions in favour of keeping the City of Victoria whole and, in particular, of retaining Victoria West as part of the electoral district of Victoria. The Commission agrees with these submissions and has now revised its proposal. The existing boundaries of the Victoria electoral district remain unchanged.

There have been some modest but necessary alterations to the boundaries of the Saanich—Gulf Islands electoral district out of regard for the electoral quota.

The Lower Mainland

Electoral District Population Variance from
Electoral Quota
Abbotsford 96,819 –7.58%
Burnaby North—Seymour 100,632 –3.94%
Burnaby South 105,037 0.26%
Chilliwack—Hope 92,734 –11.48%
Cloverdale—Langley 108,519 3.59%
Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam 110,277 5.26%
Delta 100,588 –3.99%
Fleetwood—Port Kells 109,742 4.75%
Fort Langley—Aldergrove 94,883 –9.43%
Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon 90,871 –13.26%
New Westminster—Burnaby 108,652 3.71%
North Vancouver 109,639 4.65%
Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge 94,111 –10.17%
Port Moody—Coquitlam 108,326 3.40%
Richmond West 93,863 –10.40%
South Surrey—White Rock 94,678 –9.63%
Steveston—Richmond East 96,610 –7.78%
Surrey Centre 111,486 6.42%
Surrey—Newton 105,183 0.40%
Vancouver Centre 102,480 –2.18%
Vancouver East 110,097 5.09%
Vancouver Granville 99,886 –4.66%
Vancouver Kingsway 102,003 –2.63%
Vancouver Quadra 102,416 –2.24%
Vancouver South 100,966 –3.62%
West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country 112,875 7.74%

With the addition of 5 electoral districts, there are now 26 in the Lower Mainland, representing nearly two thirds of the province's electoral districts. When the Commission began its deliberations, the two North Shore electoral districts were well above the electoral quota. Since the previous quota of 108,548 from the 2001 Census was lowered to 104,763, the degree of divergence from the current quota increased for these districts. It fell to the Commission to bring these districts closer to the present quota of 104,763.

In its proposal, as noted earlier, the Commission found it appropriate to address the large deviation from the quota of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country by moving the Powell River area to the electoral district of Vancouver Island North (now Vancouver Island North—Comox—Powell River). As a result of submissions received, the Commission has added the Pemberton-Mount Currie area to West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, an electoral district much more reflective of that area's community of interest. The eastern boundary of the electoral district now generally follows the municipal divide between West Vancouver and North Vancouver.

The Commission's proposal also needed to substantially decrease the population of the existing North Vancouver electoral district, which comprised nearly the entire city and district of North Vancouver. It was and remains apparent to the Commission that there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm on both sides of Burrard Inlet for some combination of the existing North Vancouver and Burnaby—Douglas electoral districts to address deviations from the electoral quota. There were many submissions that viewed the large arterial corridor of the Ironworkers Memorial (Second Narrows) Bridge as more of a challenge to than an enhancement of access and communication for constituents. The Commission appreciates these concerns but is ultimately of the view that there has to be an amalgamation of these areas into a reconfigured electoral district, Burnaby North—Seymour. On occasion over the past 40 years, these two areas have been united to comprise a single electoral district. The Commission has altered the proposal for this district by following the Seymour River line, moving the boundary slightly east from the Lynn Creek line in the Seymour portion of the district.

The other electoral districts in the Burnaby region have also been newly altered. The proposed electoral district of Burnaby South—Deer Lake, now renamed Burnaby South, has undergone some modest alteration. The Commission has reunited all parts of the City of New Westminster in the renamed electoral district of New Westminster—Burnaby, and has included in it a southern portion of the City of Burnaby contiguous to the Burnaby South electoral district.

In the proposal, the Queensborough area of New Westminster had been included in the Richmond East electoral district. The Commission received a large number of submissions opposing this inclusion. Although this geographic area is physically a part of Lulu Island, considerations of historical patterns of representation and community of interest have favoured the transfer of Queensborough back with New Westminster in the New Westminster—Burnaby electoral district.

Similarly, in its proposal, the Commission attached a portion of the City of Port Coquitlam to the reconfigured Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge district. The division of Port Coquitlam between three electoral districts was viewed unfavourably. The Commission concluded that the proposal for this area should be altered. Port Coquitlam is now being kept whole in the reconfigured electoral district of Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, which also comprises a portion of the City of Coquitlam. The remaining portion of Coquitlam has now been amalgamated with the municipalities of Port Moody, Belcarra and Anmore to form a reconfigured electoral district named Port Moody—Coquitlam.

Population growth in the City of Vancouver required the establishment of an additional electoral district in this metropolitan area. Accordingly, in its proposal, the Commission established a new electoral district named Vancouver Granville. With a slight alteration, this district now runs generally along the spine of Granville Street from 4th Avenue to the Fraser River.

The establishment of this new electoral district resulted in changes to most existing electoral districts in Vancouver. As noted earlier, Vancouver East, which continues to include part of historic Mount Pleasant, has been restored from the proposal to its existing boundaries. The eastern boundary of the Vancouver Quadra electoral district was moved west, as outlined in the proposal, and remains unchanged from then. Since the proposal, alterations have been made to the boundaries of the districts of Vancouver Kingsway, Vancouver Centre and Vancouver South. The western boundary of Vancouver Kingsway has been moved to Main Street. The western boundary of Vancouver South has been moved to Cambie Street. The boundary of Vancouver Centre in the South Granville area has been moved north from 6th Avenue to 4th Avenue. The general rationale underlying these changes was to create boundaries along major arterial streets and, in the case of Vancouver South, to take account of what was submitted to be a community of interest in the Oakridge area.

Since the proposal, there have been reconfigurations to the electoral districts containing Richmond and Delta. The renamed Steveston—Richmond East electoral district no longer includes any portion of the Corporation of Delta. The electoral district of Richmond West now comprises the largely urban part of the City of Richmond. The Commission has also established a new electoral district, Delta, comprising the whole of the Corporation of Delta.

The Commission's proposal concerning districts in and around Surrey has been substantially altered as a result of much helpful public input. It appeared to the Commission, after receiving such information, that the proposal had paid insufficient regard to historical patterns and communities of interest. It is important to note that Surrey has seen the highest population growth in the province. For instance, the existing electoral district of Fleetwood—Port Kells demonstrates the highest variance from the electoral quota, at 52.85%.

Recognizing that name's historic origin, the Commission is now reverting to the name of Fleetwood—Port Kells for the reconfigured electoral district. A newly configured electoral district named Surrey Centre incorporates parts of Whalley and the existing electoral district of Surrey North; it is centred on the main business district and the relocated city hall. The reconfigured electoral district of Surrey—Newton incorporates a substantial portion of the Newton area. Much of this district was formerly a part of the existing Newton—North Delta electoral district.

The Commission has ventured slightly beyond the eastern boundary of Surrey to create a reconfigured electoral district named Cloverdale—Langley, comprising parts of the Cloverdale and Clayton areas along with the City of Langley. This is a region of expanding population and reflects a community of interest that includes two historic centres. Part of the southerly portion of Surrey has been combined with the White Rock and Crescent Beach areas in a reconfigured electoral district named South Surrey—White Rock.

The Commission configured a new electoral district named Fort Langley—Aldergrove, comprising most of the Township of Langley. This electoral district includes Fort Langley, Walnut Grove, Aldergrove and Brookswood. Much of this area still exhibits a rural character but is beginning to undergo population densification.

The existing electoral district of Abbotsford has been extensively reconfigured. Part of the easterly area adjoining the Fraser River has been incorporated into a new electoral district, while most of the urban portion of the existing district continues under the name of Abbotsford. This reconfigured district also encompasses a rural area west of the reconfigured Chilliwack—Hope electoral district. The Abbotsford electoral district had demonstrated above-average growth and was nearly 28% over the electoral quota prior to redistribution.

The Commission has completely revised its proposal concerning the electoral district of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon by designing two new electoral districts, Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon and Chilliwack—Hope. The new Chilliwack—Hope district has retained the former western boundary of the existing Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon district, and the eastern boundary is located near Hope. Most of the Fraser Canyon portion of the existing district is included in the new electoral district of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. While this second district crosses the Fraser River, the Commission believes that the Mission Bridge provides adequate access between the two sides.

The Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge electoral district has been reconfigured since the proposal, which saw the removal of the Mission area from the existing Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission electoral district. The newly configured electoral district reunites all parts of the City of Pitt Meadows and the District Municipality of Maple Ridge.

The Interior

Electoral District Population Variance from
Electoral Quota
Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola 104,398 –0.35%
Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo 118,618 13.23%
Kelowna—Lake Country 110,051 5.05%
Kootenay—Columbia 107,589 2.70%
North Okanagan—Shuswap 121,062 15.56%
South Okanagan—West Kootenay 112,508 7.39%

The 2011 census population of the electoral districts contained between the Alberta border and the 49th parallel, north to Kamloops and the Shuswap, is 675,826. Ultimately, the Commission concluded that the addition of an electoral district in the Interior was not feasible.

In drafting its proposal, the Commission was faced with the challenge of determining how to reconfigure the existing electoral district of Kootenay—Columbia, which demonstrated a variance of 16% below the electoral quota. The Commission determined that the only route of expansion was to the west. The proposal recommended crossing the Salmo-Creston (Kootenay Pass) and included the communities of Nelson, Salmo, Fruitvale and Montrose.

Submissions encouraged the Commission to keep Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in one electoral district. However, such a combination would have resulted in an electoral district with numbers well above the electoral quota. The Commission also received submissions to keep Nakusp, Central Kootenay K, New Denver, the Slocan Valley and Central Kootenay H in the same electoral district. As well, the Commission was advised that the proposal had the effect of splitting communities adjacent to Kaslo and the north end of Kootenay Lake.

The Commission adopted several of the suggestions and has reconfigured the Kootenay—Columbia electoral district, which now includes most of the existing district plus the City of Nelson and adjacent areas. The Commission configured a new electoral district named South Okanagan—West Kootenay that includes Trail, Castlegar, Fruitvale and Montrose in its eastern region. The central portion of the district comprises the Kootenay Boundary area, and the western region incorporates Osoyoos, Oliver and Penticton.

The Commission has configured a new electoral district named Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola that contains Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton and adjacent areas. This electoral district includes Peachland, West Kelowna, and a portion of the City of Kelowna south of Harvey Avenue and adjacent to Okanagan Lake. It also includes Merritt, Logan Lake and adjacent areas in its northern region. The Commission had received submissions to place Summerland in the same electoral district as Penticton. This was deemed unfeasible because it would have resulted in an electoral district with a population variance well above the electoral quota.

By transferring a portion of the City of Kelowna to the new district of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, the Commission has been able to maintain the north and east boundaries as well as portions of the west and southern boundaries of the existing Kelowna—Lake Country electoral district.

With respect to the renamed North Okanagan—Shuswap electoral district, the Commission's proposal had placed the communities of Falkland, Chase, Sorrento and adjacent areas in other electoral districts. After receiving submissions about community of interest, the Commission has decided to revise its proposal and keep these communities together. The boundaries of the existing district remain unchanged, though the name change still stands.

In its proposal, the Commission removed some portions of the Cariboo, including 100 Mile House and areas around Clinton, from the existing Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo electoral district. After considering submissions, the Commission decided to return these areas to the reconfigured electoral district of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. The boundaries of the existing district are largely unchanged, excepting the transfer of the Valemount area to the Prince George—Peace River electoral district.

The North

Electoral District Population Variance from
Electoral Quota
Cariboo—Prince George 108,252 3.33%
Prince George—Peace River 107,382 2.50%
Skeena—Bulkley Valley 90,586 –13.53%

It was the Commission's initial observation and ultimate conclusion that major change was not required for the three large northern British Columbia electoral districts: Prince George—Peace River, Cariboo—Prince George and Skeena—Bulkley Valley. Only minor changes have been made in these three districts. The two Prince George districts are each already close to the electoral quota, and the challenge of representing Skeena—Bulkley Valley, with its vast geographic extent, makes its smaller population size sensible.

In its proposal, the Commission transferred the Valemount area to the Prince George—Peace River electoral district. This change was driven by the area's contiguity to other communities along Highway 16 and the relatively high population numbers in the Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo electoral district.

The Commission has now also made a modest alteration to the boundaries of the Skeena—Bulkley Valley and Cariboo—Prince George districts in the area of Tweedsmuir Park. This was done to keep together communities in the Bella Coola Valley and also to relieve the member of Parliament for Cariboo—Prince George from being required to traverse a difficult stretch of road at the westerly end of the Cariboo—Prince George electoral district.

Please note that this application does not work correctly in Internet Explorer 8. Please use a newer version of Internet Explorer or another browser such as Firefox or Chrome.