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Another MP for the Tri-Cities?
Tri-City voters could be sending three — not two — MPs to the House of Commons in the fall of 2015.
A proposal to add another federal riding to the region — and vastly change the two constituencies now held by the Conservatives' James Moore and the NDP's Fin Donnelly — was put forward this week by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C.
The plan calls for splitting the Tri-Cities roughly in half, using the Barnet and Lougheed highways as the general marker: Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam (population 103,632) to the north and Port Moody-Coquitlam (population 97,621) to the south.
As well, south Port Coquitlam would be part of a new Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding (population 96,956) — with a sliver, west of Shaughnessy Street, part of PoMo-Coquitlam.
The rejig would mean the existing ridings of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam and New Westminster-Coquitlam would disappear by the next general election, which will be hold Oct. 19, 2015.
Moore, who is Canada's minister of heritage and official languages, told The Tri-City News Thursday the preliminary maps will likely change; in 2004, when the last redistribution happened, there was a "massive difference between the first and the final maps," he said.
While little has altered for his riding, which includes Anmore and Belcarra, Moore said he finds it unfortunate south PoCo has been cut out, although he noted, "When you look at the Lower Mainland, there are very few municipalities that are whole."
He added, "What you want is to have some sort of continuity of community identity."
Donnelly, who was elected in 2009, told The Tri-City News Thursday he plans to meet with members of his riding association today (Friday) about the proposal, which calls for more Coquitlam homes and no New West ones in his riding.
"It's quite a significant change," he said. "I haven't determined where I would go if this becomes the final map... The choice would be Port Moody-Coquitlam or New Westminster-Burnaby."
Donnelly said the existing boundary, encompassing the three cities, made sense to him personally as he was born in New West, raised in PoMo and spent the latter part of his life in Coquitlam, including as a city councillor.
Like Moore, he believes the proposed redistribution map won't be the final one.
PoCo Mayor Greg Moore said he plans to make a submission to the commission. "We're not happy that Port Coquitlam would be split into three," he said, adding the city's federal representation would be ineffective. "It doesn't serve our residents well."
The realignment is in response to the region's massive population boom over the past five years. New West-Coquitlam has seen a 10% population hike, from 111,231 to 122,899 people; with the riding spread over 52 sq. km, that translates to 2,353 people per square kilometre.
By comparison, PoMo-Westwood-PoCo saw an 11.3% population surge, with 129,706 people calling the riding home last year versus 116,553 in 2006; the riding takes up 647 sq. km, translating to 199.7 constituents per square kilometre.
According to the commission, the ideal population would be around 104,000.
The commission wants to add six new electoral districts in B.C., translating to the Lower Mainland holding 26 of British Columbia’s 42 ridings, up from the current 21 of 36.
The commission will submit a report to Ottawa after a series of public hearings this fall, including a stop in Coquitlam on Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Executive Plaza Hotel and Conference Centre (405 North Rd.). To make a presentation at the hearing, email firstname.lastname@example.org (or mail a letter to 1095 West Pender St., Suite 301, Vancouver, V6E 2M6) by Aug. 30.
For more information, visit federal-redistribution.ca.