Committee recommends removing Courtenay from federal riding

A group of citizens has been meeting in the hopes of initiating an independent study to review governance of the Comox Valley.

COMOX VALLEY RESIDENTS could be split into two federal ridings if approved by Parliament in the coming months. The proposed ridings show the Valley split in two with Courtenay

Some Comox Valley residents might be voting in a separate federal riding if a redistribution report is approved by Members of Parliament.

The report, released Monday and prepared by a three-person electoral commission, proposed a variety of changes for the province, with one recommendation of splitting the Valley into two ridings, giving the Island seven ridings, up from six.

The change would see Comox included with the Vancouver Island North riding, while Courtenay would join a redesigned Courtenay-Alberni riding.

It would also see Denman and Hornby islands joining the proposed new riding.

Power River — which currently sits in the riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country — would also be included in the Vancouver Island North riding.

“I can’t see any advantage in drawing the line the way it has been,” said Kathryn Askew, president of the NDP’s Vancouver Island North Riding Association. “It divides the agricultural community, the estuary and the harbour into two ridings and I can’t see how that’s advantageous.”

Askew noted at a recent hearing for the proposed draft report, not a single person — regardless of political affiliation — spoke in favour of the change.

“It crosses party lines,” she added. “Every single community of interest, whether it’s commercial, the watershed, or employees keep the Comox Valley intact.”

In addition to splitting the area, Askew said the proposed change will also have an effect on riding associations, and they will either have to divide or create a new ones as a result of the split.

The report is based on the latest census population numbers, and commissions in each province consider and assess demographic changes that occurred since the previous redistribution process.

Other changes across Vancouver Island include keeping the City of Nanaimo (currently two ridings) as a single riding, putting Langford and Highlands into a Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding and reconfiguring other surrounding Victoria municipalities.

MPs have will study the report and file objections in the coming weeks. A final report is expected in June, with changes expected to become law.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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