Opposition to North Burnaby-Seymour on both sides of inlet: MP
It appears people on both sides of Burrard Inlet don't like the idea of a North Burnaby-Seymour federal riding.
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart commissioned a telephone poll of residents in the affected area of North Vancouver and found that 79 per cent of those with an opinion opposed the proposal.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission of B.C. has proposed the riding spanning parts of the two cities in its once-every-10-years redistribution of electoral districts to factor in the most recent population numbers.
In Stewart's poll, of 7,775 North Vancouver households contacted, 1,007 participated with 16 per cent supporting the proposal, 60 per cent opposed and 23 per cent undecided. When the undecideds are taken out of the equation, those opposed account for 79 per cent of those with an opinion.
Stewart also attended the commission's first public hearing on its proposals held in North Vancouver on Monday, where the speakers' focus was split between the North Burnaby-Seymour riding and one that would combine Powell River with Vancouver Island North.
Of those speaking about North Burnaby-Seymour, only one was in support, Stewart said, with the rest stating the two communities simply don't fit together.
He noted that a potential solution was suggested by some speakers: add Sechelt, Powell River and other Sunshine Coast communities to the Vancouver Island North riding, combine the Sea-to-Sky Highway communities with part of North Van city, and create another riding with North Van district and the reminder of North Van city.
"That would alleviate the pressure to come across Burrard Inlet. It actually really worked quite well at the meeting that the two groups were there."
And if Burnaby-Douglas has too many people, small parts of it could be redistributed into one of the other proposed new Burnaby ridings, Stewart added.
After the controversy caused by media reports of one commission member, Stewart Ladyman, suggesting North Burnaby-Seymour was a done deal (comments he told the NewsLeader were taken out of context), commission members appeared quite open to listening to speakers, Stewart said.
"I do feel that the commission is open to making changes."
The Burnaby-Douglas MP believes the proposal was made purely from a numbers standpoint and the hearings will be a chance for the commission to find out how such a riding would work.
As Stewart told the commission Monday, it wouldn't function very well.
While MPs in ridings that are rural and spread out geographically get extra funding from the federal government to open more than one constituency office to serve residents, those in urban ridings don't.
"I would probably have to lay off a staff person to [open a second office across Burrard Inlet] when I would actually need extra staff for two offices."
He noted one of the local constituents even recalled the Burnaby-Seymour riding of the 1970s and said, "I've lived through that era and we never saw the MP. There was a big concern that would happen again."
Burnaby residents' next chance to participate in a commission public hearing will be Oct. 18, 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express Metrotown.
Stewart said the hearing is already "oversubscribed" and he hopes the commission schedules another meeting to hear from Burnaby residents.