The federal electoral riding of Abbotsford looks quite different in a proposed redrawing of the boundaries released this week.
The changes are being proposed by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C., as they work toward adjusting boundaries to better reflect current populations. They were released on May 2 along with a set of maps, but changes wouldn’t take place until April 2024 at the earliest.
There are some dramatic boundary changes in the eastern Fraser Valley. Most of Hope would break off into a new riding called Coquihalla. That riding includes a huge swath of southern B.C. that includes West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Princeton, Merritt and the Fraser Canyon.
Chilliwack and Abbotsford’s riding are also adjusted on the proposed boundary maps. Chilliwack would stretch from Silver Creek in Hope through Chilliwack and into Abbotsford. It would run all the way to Gladwin Road south of Highway 1, and encompass key Abbotsford locations such as the UFV campus, the Sumas border crossing, and Sumas Flats.
However, Abbotsford would gain back its northern communities that are currently part of the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding, a riding that would be eliminated with this proposed plan. Mission would be included with Maple Ridge.
Abbotsford MP Ed Fast said that the public should know that these are just preliminary proposals in a long and necessary process.
“This is just a preliminary plan,” he said. “We have to be careful about jumping to conclusions about where this will end up.”
He said he and other members of Parliament will be engaged in the consultation process, along with other elected officials from all levels of government. He has been through riding changes before, having been an MP for six terms now.
“We will have a chance to respond, at a local level,” he said. “My goal is that the interest of the communities that are affected are met. Each one of our cities are made up of different communities, and I want to make sure as much as possible that this process allows communities to stay together, understanding that there are a number of different considerations the commission has to take into account.”
The commission is made up of three people who will be traveling around the province starting in June for 27 in-person meetings with the public.
“Our task is to create an additional riding and to adjust the boundaries of existing ridings to maintain effective federal representation for all British Columbians,” said Justice Mary Saunders, chair of the three-member commission along with R. Kenneth Carty and Stewart Ladyman.
“We are proposing quite a few boundary changes. The changes are mainly in response to the significant but uneven growth of our population. That growth pattern creates a domino effect if we are to be fair and have relative equality between voters in different electoral districts. Our proposal necessarily gives attention to what is possible and practical given our varied and rugged geography and our distinct communities. We look forward to receiving public input on it.”
They will be in the Fraser Valley in the fall, with a public meeting in Abbotsford on Sept. 20 at the Sandman Hotel on Simon Avenue at 7 p.m.
A full list of all the changes, including an interactive map, is available at redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca.
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