Kelowna: The Kelowna Chamber says it's time to add another provincial riding in Kelowna to better serve our growing population. They made that pitch at the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s Kelowna stop on Wednesday during their swing through the southern interior.
The Commission is consulting with the public in advance of submitting reports to the Legislature on changing electoral district boundaries and changing the number of MLAs. Decisions will be made in the Legislature in 2023.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dan Rogers cited the rapidly growing central Okanagan region, and the need for additional representation in the Legislature, as well as potential boundary alignment. Support for a new riding, Kelowna Centre, would encompass Kelowna’s current and predicted expansion of residents in the downtown area – currently included in the riding that primarily serves West Kelowna. A new downtown riding would see the Kelowna West riding boundary move westward across Okanagan Lake.
Rogers said, “As we are a business organization, we will leave it to you to determine, and others to suggest, what the redefined boundaries for such a new riding would look like, but we believe that the significant increases in development, business, and population growth in Kelowna’s urban core lends themselves well to a new city centre riding.”
As well, Rogers spoke to the value of moving Big White into one of the Kelowna area ridings, out of the Boundary Similkameen riding – as the businesses and residents of Big White – and the tourism traffic – are dependent on Kelowna businesses, schools (over grade six), services and other supports. Such a move would make sense and improve representation for the residents and businesses there.
Concluding, Rogers said “We believe the commission should consider the much talked-about urban rural divide. It is real and tangibly reflected in the legislature by a shifting of representation to more MLAs who hail from the province’s metropolitan regions. This shift is understandable given the need to respect population growth, but the unintended consequence is that the frequency of policy discussions related to issues important to citizens in highly urbanized areas draws attention and time away from critical policy issues related to our resource-based economy, something that creates prosperity for all British Columbians whether they are aware of it or not.”
Audio remarks are online at www.bcebc.ca