Chamber opposed to proposed provincial riding changes

Plans would see five MLAs for Abbotsford in next election

The chamber has come out in opposition to proposed changes to Abbotsford ridings.

The chamber has come out in opposition to proposed changes to Abbotsford ridings.

The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce has announced it is strongly opposed to proposed provincial riding changes that would see Abbotsford residents in five different ridings in the next election.

Allan Asaph, executive director of the chamber, supplied a written submission to the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which released its preliminary report in March on the proposed updates to provincial boundaries.

Asaph wrote that the proposed realignments would “significantly fracture the representation of the communities of Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack to the detriment of its citizens and of its elected representatives.”

The three existing ridings in Abbotsford are Abbotsford West, Abbotsford South and Abbotsford-Mission.

In the proposal, sections of neighbouring communities would be combined, creating the electoral districts of Aldergrove-Abbotsford, Fort Langley-Abbotsford, Abbotsford Centre, Chilliwack-Sumas, along with changes to the existing Abbotsford-Mission riding.

The boundaries would split sections of Abbotsford along Highway 1 and Highway 11, with a solely local riding in central Abbotsford.

Asaph opposed the division of ridings along Highway 1, as it “ignores the regulatory, operational, economic, and land use realities of this region.”

“The proposed boundaries tear these communities apart and put them together in a way that creates significant disadvantages depending on which portion of the riding in which you reside.”

The submission also notes the issues of having two regional districts, two school districts and two separate police forces in a riding, and organizations such as TransLink, which only runs in Metro Vancouver.

In addition, there are several economic factors noted by Asaph, such as having the highly productive Agricultural Land Reserve land move into ridings that have a major population base outside of Abbotsford, as well as the Abbotsford International Airport.

Asaph notes “the effectiveness of our elected representatives is greatly enhanced by their knowledge of and presence in our community. The new boundaries proposed in your report will not serve us well and, in our opinion, will significantly reduce that effectiveness.”

Residents can also submit their input online at bc-ebc.ca, or by email by 11:59 p.m. on May 26.