MPs not content

Proposed riding boundary changes have local MPs unhappy

James Lunney says he is fairly certain he’s going to run in the next federal election, but he’s not exactly sure where he’ll be campaigning.

“I’ll make the decision when the time is right,” Lunney said when asked if he’ll run. “I have every intention of running at the present time.”

The question though, is where he would be serving, if elected.

That’s because the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission has recommended that another riding be added on Vancouver Island, which means a shuffling of the deck for prospective MPs.

The new riding, one of seven new ones proposed for the province, would be called Nanaimo-Ladysmith and would result in this riding losing 50,000 voters in the south and a gain of 25,000 in the north.

While he’s pleased about the extra representation for both the Island and the province, Lunney isn’t particularly enamored with the specific proposal. In particular, he doesn’t like losing the portion of Nanaimo that is home to his constituency office for the past 12 years and he doesn’t like the plan to add Powell River to the riding.

“There is enough population on Vancouver Island to justify seven ridings, with 105,000 per riding. Nanaimo-Alberni has 127,000 so the report calls for a push from the south and a pull to the north,” he said. “I did a lot of pushback with (Vancouver Island North) MP John Duncan. We argued this is a disproportionate distortion for the electorate on the Island.”

Lunney said Powell River residents have a much stronger connection to the Sunshine Coast than they have to Vancouver island and that’s where they should stay. As well, he said the flow of much of the riding is to Nanaimo.

Duncan and Lunney proposed an amended boundary that would leave Powell River where it is and keep a chunk of Nanaimo with this riding.

“The ball has been bounced back to the boundary commission and they have 30 to 60 days to respond,” Lunney said. “It’s a big change, but we’re arguing for something more reasonable. We don’t want to split Courtenay-Comox — the citizens have very strongly indicated that — and Powell River doesn’t want to be connected to Vancouver Island.”

Duncan said the proposal as it stands is not acceptable to him, or the people who voted for him.

“The latest recommendation by the BC Boundaries Commission, which split the Comox Valley in half and removed Powell River from the Sunshine Coast and added it to Vancouver Island North, met with considerable opposition in the impacted communities,” Duncan said in a press release. “This proposal is contrary to the obvious communities of interest within the Comox Valley and the Sunshine Coast. I understand that the commission’s task was a difficult one, but in the end they were solving a Lower Mainland problem at the expense of Vancouver Island.”

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