Langley’s MPs are encouraging local residents to speak out about a proposed plan that would create a new federal riding that would include parts of Langley and four other nearby communities.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako Van Popta.
Van Popta currently represents a riding that includes most of Langley Township and parts of western Abbotsford.
But as population grows and shifts, riding boundaries are moved, and sometimes entirely new ridings are created to fairly distribute population. Electoral Boundaries Commissions in each province re-draw the maps every 10 years after the Canadian Census.
This summer, the proposed maps revealed that Langley-Aldergrove would expand to the east, representing much more of western Abbotsford.
The riding of Cloverdale-Langley City, represented by MP John Aldag, would also change its shape somewhat.
But the new proposed riding of Pitt Meadows-Fort Langley has attracted most of the attention.
It would include all of Langley north of Highway One, along with a chunk of northeastern Surrey, Barnston Island, parts of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and a slice of Port Coquitlam.
It divides people who live and work and shop nearby one another in Langley, while lumping them in with people across the Fraser and Pitt Rivers, both MPs said.
“No one is happy with using the freeway as a dividing line,” Van Popta said.
“I think the Township should be as intact as possible,” he said.
Despite the fact that Aldag is a Liberal MP and Van Popta represents the Conservatives, they are united in being dissatisfied with the way the Langley area would be sliced and diced if the proposed new riding boundaries are set in stone by the commissions.
Aldag said that the commission’s plans for the region seem to be in opposition to its own principles.
“They want to keep communities of interest together, and that’s where I think they’ve missed the mark with the Township,” Aldag said.
Communities of interest are areas where people have natural interests in common. Langley City and Cloverdale are close together, and people there use the same roads, shop in many of the same areas and go to the same parks, even if they’re in different cities, Aldag pointed out.
Langley had one MP for years, and although it’s now grown too large for that, it still deserves better representation than this plan, Van Popta said.
“Surely there’s a better way to do it,” he said.
The apparent cause of the strange realignment is that an extra seat was added to represent B.C. in the Okanagan.
That pushed every other riding all the way down the Fraser Canyon and into the Lower Mainland to the west.
The new proposed boundaries are not yet final, and public hearings before the commission members are coming up this month.
The closest local events will be:
• Abbotsford, Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Sandman Hotel. 32720 Simon Ave
• Pitt Meadows, Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Meadow Gardens Golf Club 9675 Meadow Gardens Way
• Langley, Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Coast Langley City Hotel & Convention Centre 20393 Fraser Hwy.
People who wish to speak to the commission have to fill out a form in writing online or by mail at least a week before the hearing at which they wish to appear. The forms can be found on the commission’s website at https://redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca/com/bc/phrg/index_e.aspx.
“I’ve encouraged a lot of people to go,” Van Popta said.
He’ll be in Parliament when the local events happen, but MPs get a chance to speak to commissioners as well.
He’s hoping that local civic politicians, residents, and members of the business community will speak up, seeing the importance of having a cohesive federal riding so MPs can represent their communities better.
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