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Burnaby North-Seymour riding to go ahead
Burnaby-Douglas will be no longer after the next federal election following a final decision by the Electoral Boundaries Commission of B.C. to move ahead with a Burnaby North-Seymour riding.
The commission's decision, announced Wednesday, comes despite much opposition from residents of both North Burnaby and part of North Vancouver District to the idea of representing the two communities from one constituency that spans Burrard Inlet.
It also comes despite the urging of a Conservative-dominated parliamentary committee back in June that the commission reconsider its decision.
It did reconsider it but on reflection, decided to stick by its earlier decision, making it final. The commission has the final say on the matter. The proposed riding changes will now await royal assent, which is expected to take place in the House of Commons on Sept. 19.
The proposals are part of a redistribution of population among federal electoral districts that happens every 10 years. British Columbia is set to receive six additional seats bringing its total to 42, with the "electoral quota"—what the commission was targeting to allow for even population distribution—set at 104,763 residents per riding.
In its addendum to its report released Wednesday, the commission explained how it dealt with the various objections to its proposed changes across the province.
When it came to Burnaby North Seymour, the commission said it is "not insensible" to the objections of MPs and residents on both sides of the inlet but "cannot overlook" the fact that population numbers in two existing electoral districts—West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country and North Vancouver—far exceed the electoral quota.
"Moreover, there is a measure of common interest between the two components of the reconfigured Burnaby North—Seymour district because they front on Burrard Inlet, a working harbour," the commission noted.
"While the two components span a body of water, access is not as serious an issue as it is in several Interior electoral districts, especially in the northern and central areas of the province."
The change would likely most affect current Burnaby-Douglas New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart. If the proposed riding boundaries were applied during the 2011 federal election, he would have lost by seven per cent of the vote, compared to the two per cent he did win by.
Stewart could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
For its part, the commission said the configuration of Burnaby North-Seymour has been one of its most difficult challenges.
"In the end, all we can say concerning this reconfigured electoral district is that the commissioners have spent much time and thought on what to do in this area, having regard to our mandate of doing the best we can province-wide," it said.
"We have listened with sympathy and appreciation to the cogently expressed objections to this reconfiguration from several sources, but we are ultimately unable to arrive at any disposition that we consider to be a better one."