COLUMN: A few changes

The next provincial election is in May 2017. It may seem like a long way off, but it’s only 16 months away.

The next provincial election is in May 2017. It may seem like a long way off, but it’s only 16 months away.

There will be a few changes for B.C.’s ridings in next year’s election — including right here at home. The Electoral Boundaries Commission has recommended slight changes to Cariboo-Chilcotin and I am thrilled with the results.

First of all, it’s important to provide some background. Every eight years an independent commission reviews B.C.’s electoral district boundaries and names. This ensures that each MLA represents about the same number of people.

The Legislative Assembly reviews the commission’s proposals and votes to approve them, reject them, or approve them with alterations. If the commission’s proposals are approved or approved with alterations, the government must introduce them as a bill.

Bill 42 was debated and passed by MLAs in the fall 2015 session of the legislature. The commission increased the number of B.C. ridings to 87 from 85, adding new districts in Surrey and Richmond/New Westminster. This reflects population growth in those urban areas since the last time ridings were changed for the 2009 election.

It is great news for rural B.C. that the number of ridings outside the main urban areas will not change, ensuring strong, effective representation for rural British Columbians.

That includes Cariboo-Chilcotin, where the City of Williams Lake will once again be united in one riding. Since 2009 the city has been split between Cariboo-Chilcotin on the west side of Highway 97 and Cariboo North on the east. I am also happy this return to historical tradition also includes 150 Mile House rejoining our riding. Everyone in the area conducts business in Williams Lake so it didn’t make sense.

Cariboo-Chilcotin is a large riding with many small communities and several First Nations — plus a wealth of natural resources that are the backbone of the B.C. economy.

It is a seven-hour drive, in good weather, to get from Anahim Lake on the western side of the riding, to Bridge Lake in the east. But I love serving this area and its citizens and am proud of everything we have accomplished together.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.