Burnaby wants to see Burnaby split into two federal ridings

Amid opposition to a proposal for North Burnaby to share a federal electoral riding with North Vancouver, Burnaby City Hall is suggesting another solution: split the city into two ridings completely within Burnaby.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission is proposing that Burnaby would go from its current two ridings—Burnaby-Douglas and Burnaby-New Westminster—to three—North Burnaby-Seymour, New Westminster-Burnaby East and Burnaby South-Deer Lake.

The proposals are part of a review and redistribution of federal ridings done every 10 years to factor in the latest population counts. 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.

The North Burnaby-Seymour proposal has been the subject of strong opposition on both sides of Burrard Inlet. A recent telephone survey commissioned by Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart found 80 per cent of participating North Burnaby residents who had an opinion opposed the proposed riding.

An earlier survey commissioned by Stewart found 79 per cent of polled North Vancouver residents with an opinion also opposed it.

Meanwhile, a city staff report says that Burnaby's population of 223,218 would be enough for two Burnaby-only federal ridings whose MPs would be best able to represent community values and concerns. Such ridings would be within the permitted 25 per cent deviation from the electoral quota.

And if the commission can't do that, the report said, then Burnaby should share ridings with directly adjacent cities, such as New Westminster or Vancouver, due to their stronger social and cultural connections.

Coun. Pietro Calendino said at a recent council meeting that the commission's mandate is supposed to include looking at historical patterns and communities of interest. Those would favour Burnaby sharing ridings with East or South Vancouver or New Westminster because there's more interaction with those communities than the North Shore.

Coun. Paul McDonell said it appears much is being done all in the name of making the population numbers meet the quota.

"I think they're throwing out the baby with the bathwater," he said adding, "New Westminster is losing Queensborough."

Mayor Derek Corrigan, who spoke on behalf of the city at the commission's public hearing last week, noted that the commission has proposed that Powell River on the Sunshine Coast be added to a Vancouver Island riding, seemingly to allow a North Vancouver riding to include North Burnaby.

"I'm absolutely astounded. Computers are too intelligent to do this."

Having Burnaby represented by three ridings as proposed doesn't give the city any advantage since they would have to compete with the North Shore and New Westminster for their MPs' attention.

"I think it's going to require the voice of people throughout Burnaby stepping up and saying they're not satisfied with this," Corrigan said, encouraging people to write to the commission expressing their concerns.

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