Central Saanich has officially signalled its opposition to proposed changes that move the Brentwood Bay neighbourhood into a different provincial riding.
Mayor Ryan Windsor said in a letter to the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission that the municipality opposes the proposed move.
“The District of Central Saanich is not in favour of this proposed boundary change as the district has a unique local understanding of the cultural and historical identity of Brentwood Bay,” he said.
The letter argues that Brentwood Bay’s social-cultural identity is especially strong among Central Saanich’s village centres.
“This cultural identity of the village is pulled northward rather than southward, primarily due to its present and historical connection to the Saanich Inlet, which the name ‘Bay’ connotes,” he writes.
The letter also points to the role of Tsartlip First Nation residents. Windsor said they are a voting population within the District of Central Saanich’s municipal boundaries and are an “integral part” of the Brentwood Bay community through many facets including schools, cultural celebrations, and commercial activities. “The proposed new boundaries would create an artificial separation that is not constructive to our ongoing reconciliation as we overcome divisions,” he added.
For these and other reasons, Brentwood Bay should stay with Saanich North and the Islands, he wrote. The letter followed after Couns. Zeb King and Niall Paltiel had submitted a notice of motion in mid-November.
Local MLA Adam Olsen has already criticized the proposed changes by the commission.
It proposes moving Brentwood Bay into Saanich South to address what it calls the “population disparity” between it and the adjacent riding of Saanich North and the Islands. “Moving the community of Brentwood Bay from this riding (Saanich North and the Islands) into Saanich South, as we propose, creates room for the anticipated population growth in this riding,” said the commission in its preliminary report.
New Democrat Lana Popham currently represents Saanich South.
The estimated population of Saanich North and the Islands would drop from what is currently 62,565 to 57,346, while the population of Saanich South would rise from what is now 54,007 to 59,226, if the move were to go forward. Overall, the British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission recommends increasing the number of ridings to 93 from 87.
A report to the Legislative Assembly is due April 3, 2023 following hearings for MLAs and a now-closed public feedback period.
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