The new federal electoral boundary map for the West Kootenay. Map: Federal Electoral Commission

The new federal electoral boundary map for the West Kootenay. Map: Federal Electoral Commission

Federal riding changes keep Castlegar area intact

Castlegar to Similkameen-South Okanagan-West Kootenay; Trail to Columbia-Kootenay-Southern Rockies

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. listened to some of the concerns raised about its draft electoral map for the West Kootenay region, but it also ignored others.

After the last census showed a significant increase to British Columbia’s population, the province was granted one extra riding in the federal redistribution of seats. That riding will be centred around Vernon — necessitating a reallignment throughout the Southern Interior region.

The commission had proposed splitting the West Kootenay up among three different ridings, with some of the smaller communities surrounding Castlegar and Trail split off from their larger neighbours.

The last proposal placed RDCK Area I, Pass Creek, Thrums, Brilliant, Tarrys, Shoreacres and Glade in the East Kootenay riding while Castlegar itself was to go to the newly named and expanded Similkameen-West Kootenay riding, which stretches all the way to Princeton and includes Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos.

RDCK Area J, which includes Ootischenia, Robson and Deer Park, was also slotted for the Similkameen-West Kootenay riding.

RDCK Areas H and K including Arrow Lakes, South Slocan, Playmor Junction and the Slocan Valley were to move into the new Vernon riding.

Kootenay Boundary Area A including Beaver Valley, Montrose and Fruitvale was to move to the East Kootenay riding while Trail, Warfied and Rossland were slated be part of the Similkameen-West Kootenay riding.

Nelson and Creston, as well as RDCK areas A, B, C, D, E, F and G were to stay in the East Kootenay riding.

The proposal was not at all popular in the West Kootenay.

Final boundaries

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary raised objections to the commission’s proposal as did several area mayors.

In the commission’s final report, changes were made based on Cannings’ objections.

“There is force to Mr. Canning’s submission in respect of the Castlegar and Trail neighbourhoods of communities, and his suggestion can be given effect to strengthen communities of interest without creating undue variance between Similkameen-West Kootenay and Columbia-Kootenay-Southern Rockies,” states the report.

“Accordingly, by this response, we reconfigure the report’s boundaries for the Castlegar and Trail areas by locating the Castlegar neighbourhood of communities within the Similkameen-West Kootenay electoral district, and locating Trail and its neighbour communities to the east within Columbia-Kootenay-Southern Rockies.”

But the commission placed Rossland, Warfield, Rivervale and Genelle with Castlegar in the Similkameen-West Kootenay district, and Trail Mayor Colleen Jones isn’t happy with the way the communities were divided up.

“The federal boundary changes make no sense. The Beaver Valley communities of Montrose, Fruitvale and Area A are part of a corridor that included Rossland, Warfield, Trail and Area B.

“We are connected communities of the Lower Columbia region and we must remain as one.”

The report, however, is final and the new ridings will be used in the next federal election.

The Similkameen-South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding will include Castlegar and its surrounding communities, Rossland, Warfield, Genelle, Grand Forks, Osoyoos, Penticton and Princeton as well as the smaller communities in between.

The Columbia-Kootenay-Southern Rockies riding will include Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale, Salmo, Nelson, Creston, Cranbrook and the rest of the East Kootenay region.

The new Vernon-Lake Country-Monashee riding will include the Slocan Valley, New Denver, Edgewood, Nakusp, Lumby, Vernon and the smaller communities in between.

READ MORE: Federal electoral boundaries divide Greater Trail communities

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