City okay with splitting Courtenay

The boundary changes are necessary due to the addition of six new federal seats in B.C.

Campbell River city council is supporting Member of Parliament John Duncan, who wants adjustments made to controversial boundary changes proposed for the federal Vancouver Island North riding.

The boundary changes are necessary due to the addition of six new seats in B.C. – including one on the Island – due to population growth.

The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission wants to divide the city of Courtenay in half and add Powell River to the North Island riding. The proposal would see the section of Courtenay east of the Puntledge River, as well as Comox, remain in the Vancouver Island North riding, but the other half of Courtenay as well as Cumberland, would be transferred to the Nanaimo-Alberni riding. Duncan opposed that change in a committee report that was recently tabled by the House of Commons committee studying the proposed boundary changes.

“The latest recommendation by the 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 news release. “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. I felt that the best way to address the problem was to collaborate with the affected MPs (Members of Parliament) on Vancouver Island and the Mainland.”

In Duncan’s proposal, Courtenay and Comox would stay in the Vancouver Island North and Powell River would remain in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding. Cumberland and Denman and Hornby islands would be transferred to a new riding south of Courtenay that would include Port Alberni. In proposing that format, Duncan said Powell River considers itself a part of the Sunshine Coast and has formed a stronger identity with the Sunshine Coast than Vancouver Island. Duncan also noted that the original plans, which would split Courtenay, would also remove his centrally located office from the riding.  Duncan’s proposal is endorsed by Campbell River city council, which last week voted to send a letter to the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission in support of the changes recommended by Duncan. His proposal is also supported by Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula and Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa. The commission will consider the committee report, which includes proposed boundary readjustments by other MPs and which should be concluded in September. The new electoral boundaries will be in place for the 2015 federal election.