Electoral ridings report to be released this fall

The deadline for public comment on proposed new boundaries for Canada’s federal electoral districts has passed and a report from the independent commissions is expected by December.

Under the constitution, federal electoral districts must be reviewed every 10 years. Each province has a three-person independent commission who have reviewed the boundaries.

British Columbia currently has 42 seats but will have 43 following redistribution.

The current boundaries for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, with a population of 122,710, based on 2016 census data, covers parts of the Cowichan Valley Regional District including Ladysmith, two electoral areas and the Stz’uminus First Nation reserve lands; the Regional District of Nanaimo electoral areas A, B and C; Nanaimo; Lantzville and Snaw-naw-as and Snuneymuxw nations’ reserve lands. Comprising a population of 121,508, the proposed changes move the northern most boundary further south to exclude Lantzville and part of north Nanaimo as well as parts of Electoral Area C. Those areas would become part of the Courtenay-Alberni riding, which would be comprised of 123,978 individuals.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Lisa Marie Barron sent out a template letter that residents could use to submit comment during the public consultation period, which closed Oct. 3. It includes concerns Barron heard from constituents, according to a newsletter sent out from Barron’s office.

The concerns include being put in a riding that voters have “no community connection to,” the letter says. The proposed boundary changes would also make it more difficult for individuals to access support from their MP’s constituency office, which would be in Parksville rather than Nanaimo, it says.

The commissions’ reports will be released between October and December following which members of parliament will have a chance to submit objections. Objections will be considered by commissioners until June 2023 and the representation order will be delivered in September. The new boundaries won’t go into effect until April 2024 at the earliest.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder