The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)

B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

B.C.’s rural-urban political divide could be getting wider in the years to come, as the NDP government plans to remove protection for existing rural seats in the B.C. legislature and add more to areas with growing population.

Attorney General David Eby introduced changes to the next electoral boundary commission Monday, giving it the ability to add as many as six new seats to a legislature that is already crowded with 87 MLAs. It would also remove a restriction in place since 2014 that prevents reducing the number of northern and rural seats to balance population with urban zones.

MLAs of all parties agreed then that B.C.’s most far-flung constituencies can’t get any bigger and still be represented by a single elected member. At the time, Stikine and North Coast were the most thinly populated, with fewer than 23,000 residents scattered over huge areas, while some Vancouver constituencies had more than 60,000 people.

Eby said B.C.’s population is expected to grow by another 500,000 people, and the changes give the next electoral boundaries commission the ability to use its discretion, with a guideline that representation should only vary by plus or minus 25 per cent from the average size of constituencies.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said the changes will likely mean the loss of one or two seats in Northern B.C. and one in the Kootenay region, as urban populations continue to see the most growth.

RELATED: B.C. Liberals move to freeze number of rural seats

RELATED: Surrey gets ninth MLA, New Westminster gains one

“From 100 Mile House north, there are about 340,000 people,” Rustad wrote on Facebook Monday. “At 57,000 average population, the north could have as few as six seats from its current 10 seats.”

Electoral boundary reviews take place every six years, led by a B.C. Supreme Court judge. Former premier Gordon Campbell initiated the protection of rural seats after a 2008 review recommended eliminating one seat in the Cariboo-Thompson region and one in the North.

The most recent changes were prior to the 2017 election, with Surrey getting a ninth MLA and a new Richmond-Queensborough seat added to bring the number of seats to the current 87.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politics

Just Posted

Vernon’s historic Towne Cinema, opened at its current 30th Avenue location as a dance hall in 1929 and was converted to a movie theatre in 1938. (GoFundMe photo)
Let the show go on: $100,000 raised for Vernon Towne Cinema

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society plans on reopening of the historic cinema after Labour Day

(City of Vernon)
Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
No words to express collective grief: Vernon mayor on 215 buried at residential school

Vernon mayor pens letter to Okanagan Indian Band Chief and council

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

A fire deliberately set in a washroom facility in Vernon’s transit terminal could cost the city around $25,000 to repair. (City of Vernon)
Burned-out bathroom could cost Vernon $25K

Despite changes made by city, vandalism on the rise at transit loop loos

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Officials watching U.K.’s variant struggles, but don’t think B.C. will need to up restrictions

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read