West Shore could get lumped with Cowichan Valley in new federal riding

Proposed new federal electoral boundaries could see a large portion of the West Shore combined with much of the Cowichan Valley

Proposed new federal electoral boundaries could see a large portion of the West Shore combined with much of the Cowichan Valley to form a new constituency: South Cowichan-Juan de Fuca.

Federal electoral districts are reviewed every 10 years and are altered to reflect changes in population. Independent commissions in each province work to re-establish the boundaries.

The proposed constituency would include much of Metchosin, half of Langford (everything north of the Trans-Canada Highway and west of Veterans Memorial Parkway) and a portion of Colwood (north of Latoria Road and west of Veterans Memorial Parkway). The riding would then also cover much of the Cowichan Valley, including Shawnigan Lake, Duncan and part of Ladysmith.

Electoral districts try to represent 104,763 residents, with an allowable deviation of 25 per cent either way. To reflect population changes, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. is required to create six more electoral districts for a total of 42 districts.

One of the commissioners is Dr. J. Peter Meekison, the chancellor and board chair of Royal Roads University. He said it was an interesting task to figure out how to make the boundaries work while keeping populations, geography, transit routes and regional interests in mind.

“We tried to, when we can, keep certain communities whole, but sometimes you have to say ‘well, we’ve got to put a line here,’” Meekison said. “With the CRD region, you’re dealing with a lot of municipalities. If you try to say each one has to be protected it raises some interesting challenges.”

Meekison recognizes there are physical and regional boundaries between the West Shore and the Cowichan Valley and is more than willing to hear from people who have concerns with the proposed constituency.

There will be three public hearings on Vancouver Island. The closest one is at the Victoria Conference Centre (720 Douglas Street) on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. The commissioners will be at the meetings.

Anyone unable to attend can make a written submission. The information collected will be considered for alterations to the plan, which must be submitted to the House of Commons by Dec. 21. The commission has the final say on the boundaries.

For more information, visit Redecoupage-federal-redistribution.ca.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com