The City of Nanaimo and the Town of Ladysmith will be united in a new federal riding, despite objections from Conservative MP James Lunney and others.
B.C. is slated to receive a net gain of six new federal electoral districts following final recommendations from the B.C. Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission, bringing the total number of seats in the province to 42. The changes are expected to receive executive approval and be entered into law during the third week of September.
The creation of a new Nanaimo-Ladysmith is among the changes. The district will have a population of just under 115,000, and will include Nanaimo, the District of Lantzville and Ladysmith. The government is mandated to add the extra districts due to B.C.'s growing population, which reached 4.4 million people in the 2011 census.
Most of the growth has taken place in the Lower Mainland, however the commission also found growth on the east coast of Vancouver Island as well as in the capital region.
While the Island will only see a net gain of one seat, the changes have resulted in major changes to existing districts.
The existing districts of Nanaimo-Alberni and Nanaimo-Cowichan will be eliminated.
To accommodate the change, Cowichan Lake and most of the Cowichan Valley will now be included in the reconfigured riding of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford to the south, while the addition of the City of Courtenay into the revamped Alberni-Courtenay district in the north means that the new Nanaimo-Ladysmith district now includes Lantzville.
The B.C. commission's report follows months of study and consultation. It contains a section outlining objections to the proposals.
According to the report, Lunney, had suggested that Nanaimo be divided into northern and southern areas.
Specifically, he had asked that part of the northern portion of Nanaimo-Ladysmith be transferred to Courtenay Alberni. However, the commission ruled out the change.
"We would first note the already large geographical extent of the reconfigured Courtney-Alberni electoral district," the report reads. "As well, we received submissions at a number of public hearings in support of keeping cities and municipalities intact where feasible." The political consequences of the changes remain to be seen. Offices for both Lunney and Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder issued statements saying the MPs will discuss the report with their local riding associations before announcing their plans.
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