Speakers told the Federal Election Boundary Commission their proposed Pitt Meadows to Fort Langley riding is too much for one MP to handle.
The proposed riding includes North Langley, parts of Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, and more. None of the public feedback at the Langley meeting about the riding redraw was positive.
The federal commission that redraws electoral ridings based on trying to achieve a comparable population has been holding hearings about its proposed ridings around the province. The commission was in Langley on Thursday, Sept. 22.
“Langley ridings have grown a great deal,” said Mary Saunders, the judge who chairs the commission.
The ridings are redrawn based on the most recent 2021 census. With the growth in the B.C. population, the province will add one additional riding, which went to the Interior. The goal is to ensure most ridings have about 116,000 residents, although some remote ridings will have fewer people.
The boundaries on Lower Mainland riders were rejigged based on significant population growth, with the Pitt Meadows – Langley riding being one of the biggest changes and the commission choosing to have it straddle the Fraser River.
“We had contemplated with the bridge, that there would be community building,” Saunders explained. “We are learning things.”
Speakers generally agreed that the Fraser River makes a more common sense dividing line than the TransCanada Highway.
Cory Redekop, CEO of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, tried an experiment. He tried driving the proposed riding the afternoon before the meeting only to find he ran out of time because it is so large.
“It makes much more sense to cascade east and west (versus north and south),” he commented.
Redekop noted that with the proposed ridings, the chamber has member businesses in Surrey ridings, Cloverdale-Langley City, Langley Township ridings and more. A small section of the Township, for instance, between 196th Street and 200th falls into two Surrey ridings. It’s unwieldy and will only become more so.
“Along 200th Street, we have a lot of growth planned,” he added.
Langley resident Brad Richert said he’s lived in every community south of the Fraser River and rarely crosses the Golden Ears Bridge to do business. He and others said there just isn’t a north/south relationship.
“The bridge hasn’t knit communities together,” acknowledged Saunders.
What do #Langley, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge have in common? Not a heck of a lot, and that's the point!
— Cory Redekop (@CoryRedekop) September 23, 2022
Transit, business, and personal interactions are on an east/west direction. Township Mayor Jack Froese noted that the MP for Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley would have to deal with five municipal councils, multiple chambers of commerce, and multiple MLAs and other government representatives.
Others agreed that would mean constituents would not have effective federal representation, for even something as basic as attending community events.
“Remembrance Day – how many places can an MP be at?” commented Sean Mark Gillespie, who works for MP Marc Dalton.
Froese suggested returning the 196 to 200 Street section back to a Langley riding and making a riding that puts Aldergrove in with Abbotsford so that the ridings remain South of the Fraser.
While the biggest proposed change would be to carve off North Langley and include it with communities north of the river, there were also proposed changes to the Cloverdale-Langley City riding, including putting more of Clayton in Surrey ridings.
Scott Thompson said the small section of Sullivan on the western edge of the riding has little in common with Cloverdale and that the riding should be drawn based on the land’s topography. The Nikomekl and Serpentine Rivers form a greenspace around the western side of Cloverdale, for instance.
He also noted that Cloverdale/Clayton have a more natural relationship with Langley City and the western part of the Township than with other parts of Surrey and Clayton should be part of the Cloverdale riding.
The commission will conclude its public input hearings around the province in late September then make its riding proposals to Ottawa which it hopes to do by the end of 2022.
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