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Council opposes proposed North Burnaby-Seymour riding

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
— image credit:

Burnaby council plans to fight a proposal to combine North Burnaby with North Vancouver as part of a redistribution of federal electoral districts.

Every 10 years, the federal ridings are redistributed to factor in the most recent population numbers. This time, British Columbia will receive six additional seats bringing its total to 42, with the "electoral quota" set at 104,763 residents per riding.

At a recent council meeting, councillors expressed concern about the proposed North Burnaby-Seymour riding proposed by the Electoral Boundaries Commission of B.C.

"I remember in the '70s it was [Burnaby-Seymour] and there was not a lot of commonality and interest between North Shore and people in Burnaby," said Coun. Dan Johnston. "It was just kind of like the poor cousin riding in the Lower Mainland."

Johnston noted over the past 30 to 40 years Burnaby has shared electoral districts  with New Westminster, Coquitlam, and South Vancouver.

"They all seemed to work a little better than having to go across that water and bridge and there's just a real boundary there. You might as well put a brick wall up."

Mayor Derek Corrigan was disappointed at media reports quoting one of the three commission members, Stewart Ladyman, which suggested the North Burnaby-North Vancouver riding was a done deal before public consultations had even started.

(In a subsequent interview with the NewsLeader, Ladyman said he was quoted out of context and is open to other solutions to otherwise balance the population numbers in local ridings.)

"Canadian democracy does not deserve to be placed in a situation where there are commissioners or people called into question about the integrity of the process," said Corrigan. "By coming out and saying you've made up your mind and you're not going to listen to anybody that does put the integrity of the process into question and that concerns me."

Having been through the days of the two cities sharing a riding "I can tell you it's an impossible situation to be able to work and achieving the representation that you need," Corrigan said.

He suggested it was almost as if the proposed riding had been randomly generated by a computer.

"If we wanted a computer to design it, then we didn't need to pay all that money for commissioners," Corrigan said. "But in fact if there are commissioners, one expects them to exercise a bit more discretion than a computer does and listen to whether or not people are satisfied with the result.

"And I think having ridings crossing Burrard Inlet doesn't meet the needs of either community in my view."

Council approved a motion calling for a staff report outlining Burnaby's position and for city officials to present the city's concerns at the public hearings.

The commission's Burnaby forum takes place Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express Metrotown, 4405 Central Boulevard.

To view the commission's proposed new electoral districts, visit www.federal-redistribution.ca.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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