OUR VIEW: Splitting the Comox Valley not the end of the world

We say: Dividing communities up in electoral ridings is not a new thing

In changes stemming from new population statistics in the most recent census, a proposed new federal riding boundary would bisect Courtenay along Highway 19A.

While Comox and east Courtenay would remain in Vancouver Island North, the other half of Courtenay and Cumberland would be part of a new-look Nanaimo-Alberni riding.

While it’s unsettling to think people on one side of the Fifth Street Bridge would have one MP and those across the Courtenay River would be represented by another (possibly from a different political party), it would not be the end of the world.

There’s plenty of precedent in Canada for this type of arrangement. Prince George has, for example, been divided into three federal ridings for years.

One concern here would be that a Nanaimo-based MP might not understand or appreciate Comox Valley issues and concerns. Nanaimo residents might feel the same way if a Comox Valley candidate is elected to represent the riding.

This is nothing new. John Duncan and Catherine Bell in recent years have had to represent constituents from Fanny Bay to Port Hardy in sprawling Vancouver Island North.

Suspicious minds might wonder, though, if shifting left-of-centre voters in Cumberland and the islands might give a Tory in Vancouver Island North a better chance to win.

Under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, ridings are regularly redrawn to ensure they are as close to the average population as reasonably possible. As part of the current proposals, B.C. would gain six electoral districts due to population increases. For details, visit www.federal-redistribution.ca.

You can share your opinion at a public hearing Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Crown Isle in Courtenay. To make a presentation, notify authorities by Aug. 30 by e-mailing bc-cb@rfed-rcf.ca or mailing to Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C., 1095 West Pender St., Suite 301, Vancouver, B.C. V6E 2M6.

– Comox Valley Record