Thursday, July 12, 2012

British Columbia federal riding boundary proposal analysis part 3 (Northern Lower Mainland)

Current riding boundaries

Part three of my analysis of British Columbia's proposed ridings focuses on the Northern Lower Mainland. Mainly, the north shore of the Burrard Inlet, the City of Burnaby, and the eastern suburbs of Vancouver on the north side of the Fraser River as far as Maple Ridge. This region has a population of about 823,000 people. The region presently has seven ridings, but it is set to gain one more.

The new riding being proposed for the region is perhaps the most troublesome issue with the commission's proposal for the area. The reason for this is, the proposed riding (Burnaby North—Seymour) spans the Burrard Inlet, connecting two very different communities of interest. What's more is there is no connection between the two areas in the riding. You have to leave the riding briefly to cross over on to the other side.

Proposed riding boundaries

Another point of contention is the fact that the city of Port Coquitlam, currently all within the riding of Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam will now be divided into 3 separate ridings. Two of which will not even use the name of the city in their proposed names.

Finally, my last point of contention is that there are a number of ridings in the region that are under populated. Now, the area is home to a lot of fast growing communities, but the fact that some of the ridings are going to have less than 100,000 people (the average riding population in BC will be 105,000) means that there will be ridings in other parts of the province that are too large.

Overall, the proposed changes benefit the Conservatives the most in this area. The new riding of Burnaby North—Seymour looks to be a safe Conservative seat, while another proposed riding (Port Moody—Coquitlam) looks like it may have lost its NDP edge (although that might not matter with the NDP polling higher these days).

Here are the proposed ridings:

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea To Sky Country

This riding, located northwest of Vancouver is much too large at present, being home to 134,000 people. To bring it down to size, the commission removed two sections of the riding. It removed the Powell River area, as well as the neighbourhoods of Pemberton Heights and Norgate in the city of North Vancouver. These two neighbourhoods are the only populated parts of that city located within the riding.

Powell River is a mixed area, with the north end are the areas around the city being NDP, while the south end of the city is Conservative. Therefore the loss of this region wont affect the political make up of the riding too much. The area being lost in North Vancouver is a more Tory friendly area, but is more moderate than its neighbours in the City of West Vancouver. The new population of the riding will be 106,000. While the riding would lose 28,000 people, it would not be changed that much politically.

North Vancouver

At 127,000, the riding of North Vancouver is much too large. West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea To Sky County's loss of Pemberton Heights and Norgate has meant that North Vancouver has to take that area as well. So, some of the riding has to be removed. The commission decided to take out the part of the riding to the east of Lynn Creek. This area being lost (the Mt Seymour area) is more Conservative than the rest of the riding. The political make up of the riding wouldn't change much though, as Norgate and Pemberton Heights are also Conservative areas. The population of the new riding would be 107,000.

Burnaby North—Seymour

This is a brand new riding that the commission has proposed and is probably the most controversial. Why? Well, it combines two different areas, separated by the Burrard Inlet, that are only connected by a bridge that isn't even in the riding (it's located just outside the boundary). The riding combines the Seymour area of North Vancouver (the south slop of Mt. Seymour), with the northern 1/3rd of Brunaby, north of the Lougheed Highway (currently in Burnaby—Douglas). The consensus seems to be that this bizarre set up is unavoidable, because the north shore of the Greater Vancouver area has gotten too big for 2 ridings, and so, one had to cross the Burrard Inlet somewhere. Going east would be even worse, because that would mean crossing Indian Arm, and there are no bridges connecting the area with the Port Moody suburbs on the other side. However, if you take out Squamish and Whistler from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, and move that riding into North Vancouver, and move North Vancouver eastward into the Seymour area, you solve this problem. Anyways, I would prefer this riding to be named “Burnaby—Seymour” instead, though that's just semantics. While having the word north is more accurate, ridings tend to not have directional names in the name when an area is combined with another.

Burnaby North—Seymour would probably be a Conservative riding. The north end of Burnaby is the most Conservative part of the city, while the Seymour area in North Vancouver is very Conservative.

Burnaby South—Deer Lake

This riding would be located in the southwestern corner of Burnaby, but also includes the central part of Burnaby, around Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake. About half of the riding is created out of the current Burnaby—New Westminster riding, and the other half comes from Burnaby—Douglas. The riding has an odd shape, with an appendage sticking out to include the area around Charles Rummel Park that is mostly isolated from the rest of the riding. I believe the ridings in the city could be reconfigured to avoid this situation.

This riding would probably vote NDP, but contains the more conservative part of Burnaby—New Westminster, and some Conservative areas from Burnaby—Douglas. However, most of the riding is NDP friendly. With the creation of Burnaby North—Seymour, a series of (reverse?) musical chairs for the sitting members of Parliament and where they choose to run. None of the NDP MP's in the area are likely to run in the Seymour riding, so that would force the Burnaby—Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart to run in this riding. Although much of the area would be new to him, since his current riding consists of the north half of the city.

New Westminster—Burnaby East

This proposed riding would re-unite the City of New Westminster in one riding (except for a small area south of the North Arm which has been removed from the riding), and also takes in the neighbouring parts of Burnaby. Presently, New Westminster is located in two separate ridings. The eastern half is in New Westminster—Coquitlam, and the western half is in Burnaby—New Westminster. The Burnaby part of the riding is completely located in the current riding of Burnaby—New Westminster. This riding looks good on a map, as it's nice and compact, and contains two close knit areas, that have a similar community of interest. Again, I would drop the orientation “East” from the riding name, giving it a better sounding name, “New Westminster—Burnaby”.

This riding would be a very safe NDP riding, as it contains the most NDP-friendly parts of Burnaby, and combines it with New Westminster which a very NDP friendly city in its own right. Most of the riding comes from Burnaby—New Westminster, so it's safe to suggest that its MP, Peter Julian would want to run in this riding. He also lives in New Westminster, so it only makes sense to run there.

Port Moody—Coquitlam

This riding would come mostly from the current riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam. Except, without the New Westminster part, plus it gains some territory to compensate. The riding would now have its eastern border moved from the Coquitlam /Port Coquitlam boundary eastward to Shaughnessy Street in Port Coquitlam, taking in a few neighbourhoods in from that city. Since the Coquitlam part of this riding is bigger than the Port Moody part, the name of the riding in my opinion should actually be “Coquitlam—Port Moody”. That's just my suggestion (one wonders why Port Moody was left out of the name for the riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam”. Another problem with this riding is its population of 98,000 is very small, perhaps too small for the riding. The commission has justified these undersized ridings in fast growth areas, such as this part of the province. While it's acceptable in my opinion to have undersized ridings in fast growing areas, this riding is too underpopulated.

New Westminster—Coquitlam is already a riding where the Tories and NDP are running very close to eachother. NDP MP Fin Donnelly won the riding by just 2200 votes in 2011. Losing New Westminster, an NDP stronghold is bad news for him. What's worse, is that the new gained territory-albeit small is very Conservative. However, given the NDP's current polling numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if he still wins the riding, should he choose to run there.

Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam 
At 130,000 the fast growing riding of Port Moody—Westwood--Port Coquitlam had to be shrunk down. The commission decided to remove parts of the riding located in the city of Port Coquitlam. Presently, all of Port Coquitlam is in the riding, however the commission proposed moving all of the riding south of the Lougheed Highway into two other ridings, splitting the city into three. This would bring down the size of the riding to 104,000 people.

My big question is why did the riding's name change? The only areas lost were in Port Coquitlam. Also, the proposed name sounds redundant, mentioning Coquitlam twice. That's probably why “Westwood” is in the name currently, as that's the part of Coquitlam in the riding. Also, the new name of the riding leaves out Port Moody altogehter, just like the current riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam leaves out Port Moody. However, the two ridings represent two different parts of Port Moody. Anyways, I would suggest keeping the name of this riding as “Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam”.

Every single poll south of the Lougheed Highway went Conservative, so it's possible that the riding has become less Conservative, albeit not by much. The riding still includes the wealthy northern parts of Coquitlam and Port Moody, making the riding still Conservative in its nature.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge

This riding would come mostly from the existing riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission. At 132,000 the riding is currently too large, which is why the commission had to carve out a large chunk of it. The commission decided to remove all of the District of Mission from the riding, as well as a rural part of eastern Maple Ridge. They moved the boundary westward to 248 St in Maple Ridge, removing the communities of Websters Corners and Whonnock from the riding in addition to Mission. The riding also has to gain some territory, as a large part of Port Coquitlam was removed from the riding of Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam. The part contains much of the southern half of Port Coquitlam, south of the Lougheed Hwy and east of Shaughnessy Street. This new chunk in Port Coquitlam is geographically isolated from the rest of the riding, because the Pitt River separates the area from Pitt Mewadows. The only connection is the Lougheed Hwy, which crosses the river as the riding's boundary. With the new addition of part of Port Coquitlam, I wonder why the commission left out the community in the riding name. Why not call the riding “Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Port Coquitlam”? These changes would put the population of the riding at just 97,000. The riding is located in a fast growing area of province, but this is just too small for my liking.

Currently, the riding is mostly Conservative, but has two pockets of NDP strength in the downtown sections of Maple Ridge and Mission. The riding has been an NDP target in the past, especially when the Liberals were strong enough to eat into the Tory vote. However, with the loss of Mission and the gain of a Conservative part of Port Coquitlam, this riding becomes even more Conservative, and even more impossible for the NDP to gain.

1 comment:

  1. The solution:

    1. WEST VANCOUVER--NORTH VANCOUVER--SUNSHINE COAST has West Vancouver’s 42,694 residents, 2,700 from Capilano reserve, and about 27,500 in North Vancouver District (some of whom were already in West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country), along with 4,791 in Lions Bay/Bowen Island, and 28,619 in Sunshine Coast. Leave out Whistler and Squamish. With about 106,304 residents, it is 1.5% over quotient.

    2. NORTH VANCOUVER then has about 107,261 residents, 2.4% above quotient.

    3. Shift a belt of six proposed ridings to the east: Burnaby North--Seymour, Port Moody—Coquitlam, Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Mission—Matsqui, and Abbotsford—Sumas. These become: BURNABY NORTH—PORT MOODY, COQUITLAM CENTRE, PORT COQUITLAM—EAST COQUITLAM—PITT MEADOWS, MAPLE RIDGE—MISSION, ABBOTSFORD CENTRE, and CHILLIWACK—ABBOTSFORD EAST (Chilliwack 81,011 and about 23,750 in Abbotsford).

    4. Remove the rest of Chilliwack from FRASER CANYON. It then has 26,401 people from Fraser Valley Regional District (Kent, Hope, etc.). Add Whistler and Squamish, making 38,171 in the whole of Squamish—Lillooet RD. Add Merritt, Logan Lake, Clinton, and the parts of Thompson-Nicola not included in the new Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, making the total from Thompson-Nicola RD 23,624. Include the 100 Mile House area and Cariboo G (6,851). Add Princeton and Okanagan-Similkameen H (4,492). Total: 99,539 (5% under quotient).

    5. OKANAGAN CENTRAL—SOUTH then includes West Kelowna, Peachland and area (45,107), the Penticton area not including Okanagan—Similkameen D (36,644), Summerland (11,280), and about 20,850 in Kelowna, total 113,881 (8.7% over quotient). (KELOWNA—LAKE COUNTRY will then have about 113,882 people, 8.7% over quotient.)

    6. SOUTH OKANAGAN—WEST KOOTENAY, after moving 5,284 people in New Denver, Silverton, Slocan and Central Kootenay H to KOOTENAY—COLUMBIA, then has 93,823 people including 26,412 people in Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos, and Okanagan—Similkameen A, B, C, D, and G; 31,138 people in Kootenay—Boundary, and 36,273 in Central Kootenay: 10.4% under quotient.

    7. KOOTENAY—COLUMBIA then has about 22,168 people in Central Kootenay along with East Kootenay’s 56,685 and 14,457 in Columbia-Shuswap, making about 93,310 people, 10.9% under quotient. Since the Commission finds Skeena—Bulkley Valley acceptable with 14.1% under quotient, Kootenay—Columbia should have some consideration.