Falkland gets tossed from federal riding

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission is proposing Falkland leave the Okanagan-Shuswap riding and be put into a new riding

Falkland may get the federal boot.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission is proposing Falkland leave the Okanagan-Shuswap riding and be put into a new riding with downtown Kelowna, Summerland, Merritt, Logan Lake and Princeton.

“It’s a bit of a joke,” said Rene Talbot, Falkland’s Columbia-Shuswap Regional District director.

Talbot points out that his area is linked to Salmon Arm through the CSRD and its secondary students go to school in Armstrong.

“Ninety per cent of the people shop in Vernon and they work in Vernon,” he said, adding that Falkland has no social and economic connections to the communities in the proposed Central Okanagan-Coquihalla riding.

“It doesn’t make sense to put us in with Summerland and Kelowna.”

Talbot is concerned residents of his community would not have easy access to their federal epresentative.

“Where would our MP be located? If you wanted to have a meeting with their office staff, you’d have to drive to Kelowna or wherever they are located,” he said.

Talbot will be launching a formal protest of the proposal and he is urging residents to do the same.

“The boundary should be left as it is,” he said.

Other proposed changes to Okanagan-Shuswap would include moving the area between Blind Bay and Chase into Central Okanagan-Coquihalla and Chase into Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.

Okanagan-Shuswap — which could become known as North Okanagan-Shuswap — would see its population go from 121,062 to 112,399. The average sought for each riding is 104,763.

Canada’s electoral districts are reviewed every 10 years by independent commissions to account for shifts and growth in the population.

“It’s a challenge when you come to the rural areas of B.C.,” said Stewart Ladyman, with the Electoral Boundaries Commission and a former Vernon resident.

“There’s decreasing population in rural areas and increasing population in urban areas.”

Other factors considered when changing boundaries are communities of interest, history and geography.

Ladyman admits there may be concerns about shifting Falkland from Okanagan-Shuswap.

“We’re well aware of those types of discussions. We’re willing to listen to people and see if adjustments can be made,” he said.

There will be public input sessions Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Kelowna Ramada Hotel and Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Kamloops Convention Centre.

Those wanting to make a presentation at a hearing are requested to register by Aug. 30 at bc-cb@rfed-rcf.ca or by writing 1095 West Pender St., Suite 301, Vancouver, B.C., V6E 2M6.