A final report from the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission has granted the Pemberton Valley’s wish to rejoin Whistler and Squamish in time for the next federal election.
The Powell River area, meanwhile, appears poised to leave the local riding to join forces with a riding on northern Vancouver Island.
The commission completed its work of redrawing the province’s federal electoral map, moving Pemberton and Area C from Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon into the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding. The commission tabled its final report in the House of Commons Aug. 21.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he was “very pleased” with the news. He gave credit and thanks to the current and former MPs in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding for their work on behalf of the village, but said Pemberton’s commonalities simply lie with communities in John Weston’s riding down the Sea to Sky corridor.
“If you live in Pemberton and you’re reading the newspaper and you want to get a hold of your Member of Parliament, most people would probably call John Weston, not realizing he’s not actually their MP,” Sturdy said.
This year’s realignment comes as B.C. is set to receive six new seats in parliament for the next federal election, up from 36 to 42.
The original proposal saw Pemberton and Area C remaining separated from the Sea to Sky, but MPs for both neighbouring ridings banded together to put forth a vocal objection. Along with the added support of municipal leaders in the region, they convinced the commission to extend the Sea to Sky boundary to include the Pemberton Valley again for the first time since it left in 2003.
Justice John Hall, chair of the FEBC, submitted his initial report in Ottawa last January, saying at the time it “made sense” to group voters in the Pemberton region with their neighbours to the south.
“Pemberton and the area just beyond it fit in a bit better with West Van than it did with the (Fraser) Valley, so we just moved it where we thought it should be,” said Hall.
Powell River, which is currently part of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, is set to become part of a riding called Vancouver Island North-Comox-Powell River.
The new electoral riding map is expected to become official later this fall.
— With files from David Burke, The Chief