The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission entertains presentations at the Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers April 28. From left, Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer (chair); Linda Tynan, local government management consultant; and Anton Boegman, B.C.’s chief electoral officer. (Thom Barker photo)

The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission entertains presentations at the Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers April 28. From left, Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer (chair); Linda Tynan, local government management consultant; and Anton Boegman, B.C.’s chief electoral officer. (Thom Barker photo)

Changes proposed to Kootenays in B.C. electoral boundary tweaks

Nelson-Creston would become Kootenay Central and include Nakusp, New Denver

A review of the provincial electoral boundaries is proposing six new ridings, however the Kootenays is expected to remain largely unchanged, according to a report issued Monday, Oct. 3.

Four of the new proposed ridings are located in the Lower Mainland, while one is on Vancouver Island and another is in the Okanagan area. Additionally, there are proposals to tweak 71 riding boundaries, with no changes to 16 existing ridings.

The preliminary report from the Electoral Boundaries Commission would bump the total number of provincial ridings from 87 to 93.

“British Columbia is a growing province,” said Justice Nitya Iyer, chair of the Commission. “The population has increased by nearly half a million people over the last five years. Our recommendation to increase the number of electoral districts in B.C. reflects that growth.”

Some cosmetic changes are coming to the Kootenays, while some existing boundaries are shifting.

The report recommends changing the name of the Nelson-Creston riding to Kootenay Central, while it’s proposed that the west side of the riding expand to include the communities of Nakusp and New Denver.

Tweaks are also proposed for the Kootenay East/Columbia River Revelstoke riding bordering the City of Cranbrook. The new proposed Columbia River-Revelstoke boundary crosses Highway 3 southwest of Cranbrook and juts to the east to include some areas of Gold Creek and Hidden Valley Rd.

The Kootenay East proposal also eliminates an ‘arm’ extending north west along the Gray Creek Pass, which would be folded into Columbia River – Revelstoke.

Over in Kootenay West, the southwest riding boundary proposes a shift to include the south and east side of Grand Forks.

“Before we began our deliberations, we travelled throughout the province, meeting as many people as we could, seeking input on electoral boundaries. We held 50 public meetings in 43 communities and received over 1,300 submissions,” said Iyer. “Our recommendations are the result of the considerations in the Act, the data we collected and the diverse perspectives of British Columbians.”

With the completion of the report, the process will now move to further public consultation and feedback. A final report must be released by April 3, 2023, and the legislative assembly can decide whether to accept some or all of the Commission’s recommendations.