Proposed changes to provincial constituencies include the addition of Cumberland to the constituency that includes Port Alberni

MLA’s boundaries keep changing

Scott Fraser will be the only person to ever represent a constituency called Alberni-Pacific Rim

Central Vancouver Islanders will have a new riding in the next provincial election, Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton tabled legislation last week to adopt the recommendations of the latest B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission.

For MLA Scott Fraser that means another boundary change.

If Fraser wins the upcoming provincial election, he will have represented three different ridings over four terms without moving an inch since he took office in 2005.

“I’ll be the only MLA to ever represent the constituency of Alberni-Pacific Rim… Nobody else will be able to make that claim,” Fraser told The NEWS with a laugh Saturday morning.

When he was first elected in 2005 Fraser represented a riding called Alberni-Qualicum, which was changed in 2009 to the current Alberni-Pacific Rim riding and will be changed again in time for the next election in 2017 to the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding.

Fraser confirmed he intends to run in the next election and said he doesn’t question the boundary changes.

According to the commission’s final report released in September, the Alberni-Pacific Rim district was by far the smallest on Vancouver Island by population.

It is 18 per cent under the provincial population average and has projections to grow at a slower rate in the near future. Meanwhile, the neighbouring Comox Valley riding is 22 per cent above the provincial population average.

“I understand what the boundary commission has to do,” said Fraser. “It’s natural for them to adjust the boundaries northward on this side of the Island to equalize numbers.”

Under the changes, Denman and Hornby Islands, as well as Cumberland, Fanny Bay, Buckley Bay and Royston will be part of the new Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding, joining Errington, Coombs, Hilliers, Whiskey Creek, Bowser, Deep Bay, the Alberni Valley and West Coast.

Fraser said Cumberland residents have “legitimate concerns” about being separated from traditional neighbouring communities in the Comox Valley and presented those concerns to the Boundary Commission.

However, he noted the commission is an independent body who completed all the consultation required and justified their decisions.

Meanwhile, the Parksville Qualicum riding will stretch slightly north taking in Dashwood.  The commission recommended boundary changes to 48 existing constituencies, after public hearings since it proposed the changes this spring to balance population.  New provincial seats will be created in Surrey and Richmond-New Westminster for the next B.C. election, bringing the number of MLAs in the legislature to 87.

— With files from Tom Fletcher

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