Riding boundaries are reviewed every ten years, and the changes can be significant depending on where you live.
Here in the Southern Interior, we will be receiving one new electoral district (often referred to as a riding), which, to accommodate this new riding, will have a domino effect as the non-partisan Federal BC Electoral Boundaries Commission recommends significant riding boundary adjustments.
After extensive hearings, the Commission has made extensive revisions to Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, the riding I represent. This riding will essentially split into geographical regions that will end up in five different ridings, assuming these changes are adopted.
Given the status of our minority Parliament, we do not know exactly when our next federal election will be.
While Canada has a fixed-date election law that says the next scheduled election must occur on or before Oct. 20, 2025; this does not stop a prime minister from calling a snap election, as we saw in 2021.
If there is a snap election, the existing riding boundaries will be in effect.
If it occurs after Spring 2024, these new boundaries will take effect.
One of the most significant changes is that communities such as Merritt and Logan Lake would be located in a proposed riding called Kamloops-Thompson-Nicola, which, as the name implies, would include part of Kamloops.
Another significant change is that communities such as Princeton, Keremeos, Cawston and Hedley would join the proposed riding of Similkameen-West Kootenay, which would also include the City of Penticton as well as the Penticton Indian Band.
What remains of my existing riding — the communities of Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, and parts of Kelowna will become part of a new proposed riding called Okanagan Lake West–South Kelowna.
The existing Kelowna boundaries will be moved further south to include all of Southern Kelowna, such as Okanagan Mission.
They will extend east as far as the area around the McCulloch reservoir.
For Kelowna residents, the new proposed riding to be called "Kelowna" includes a much larger area of the City of Kelowna, including an eastern portion that also consists of the Big White ski resort area.
This riding will no longer have the communities of Lake Country or Okanagan Centre, which will join a new proposed riding called Vernon Monashee.
In addition to this MP report, my office has arranged a separate mail out with a map for each affected region (Okanagan, Similkameen and Nicola Valleys) so that the residents I represent may review this proposal in more detail.
It is challenging for the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to balance population growth with the input of many community considerations.
This second report proposal, in this case, is significantly different from the first draft proposal submitted last fall, mainly because the Electoral Boundaries Commission listened to and attempted to accommodate many of the concerns they heard.
On the same theme, I sincerely thank the Federal BC Electoral Boundaries Commissioners and staff for all their work in submitting this report. I would also like to thank those who took the time to participate.
In my view, federal elected officials should avoid directly commenting on these changes to avoid any perception of attempting to influence boundary changes that may either enhance or work against partisan political interests.
I believe it is crucial for both local and regional government representatives and local citizens to be aware of these proposed changes and consider the accessibility of current electoral boundaries compared to what is proposed.
Dan Albas is member of Parliament for Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola and member of the Conservative caucus.