Coleman speaks against proposed riding boundary changes

The proposed change in Langley provincial electoral boundaries has prompted a response from the Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA

Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman

The proposed change in Langley provincial electoral boundaries has prompted a response from Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA and deputy premier Rich Coleman, as well as from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

Few other Langley residents bothered to comment on the proposed boundaries, which would split Coleman’s existing riding into two, and add large areas of Abbotsford to each of the two ridings. They would be divided by Highway 1, according to the commission’s original proposal.

The proposed shifts are due to population growth, as the commission’s mandate is to create ridings that are roughly equal in population, except for several large, far-flung northern ridings.

According to the Electoral Boundaries Commission website, there were only four other comments from Langley. That contrasts with hundreds of comments from Hope residents, who are concerned that their area will be split away from an existing riding in Chilliwack and attached to a riding including Merritt and several other interior communities.

Coleman proposed to the commission on May 26 that Abbotsford not be included in any Langley ridings. Instead, he is suggesting that the area east of 264 Street, which includes urban Aldergrove, be attached to two Abbotsford ridings. The portion north of Highway 1 should be added to Abbotsford West, while south of Highway 1, he suggests inclusion in Abbotsford South.

He also recommends that two portions of his existing riding go to the new Langley riding — an area of Willoughby north of 72 Avenue and south of Highway 1, as far east as 208 Street; and the area east of 216 Street and west of 232 Street, south of 56 Avenue. This would include all of Murrayville.

“I do know that people in Aldergrove do have a common community with people in Abbotsford,” he said in the submission. “In fact, 264 Street is probably the best line to use to move population from Langley into Abbotsford, with the least disruption to Langley overall.”

He had told The Times in April that he was concerned about the lack of common concerns between people in South Langley near the Surrey border and those in Abbotsford.

He also noted that the proposed ridings divide both Langley and Abbotsford.

In addition to his comments about the Langley ridings, Coleman also proposed that the ridings further east in the Fraser Valley respect municipal boundaries as much as possible, and that Hope be included in a Chilliwack-Hope riding.

The Langley chamber also spoke against the proposed new boundaries. President Kristine Simpson said in a letter to the commission that “proposed east-west divisions impose significant challenges on elected officials representing multiple municipalities.”

She noted that the two Langleys are members of Metro Vancouver, while Abbotsford is part of the Fraser Valley Regional District. The two Langleys are part of TransLink as well — Abbotsford is not.

The chamber recommends electoral boundaries with more focus on a north/south alignment.

Public input on the proposed boundary changes took place in April and May. The commission is now preparing a final report, which will go to the B.C. Legislature.