Idea of regional divide gains resistance

Plans to split Greater Vernon into two provincial constituencies is drawing a firm rebuke

Plans to split Greater Vernon into two provincial constituencies is drawing a firm rebuke.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors voted Wednesday to oppose a recommendation from the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission to remove the Swan Lake area and a portion of the BX from Vernon-Monashee and place it in the Shuswap constituency.

“To take the existing local government area and chop it down the middle doesn’t make sense,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

The proposed electoral area district boundary would follow the Vernon municipal boundary around Swan Lake and Silver Star Foothills to the Spallumcheen boundary.

The Swan Lake commercial corridor along Highway 97 would join the Shuswap constituency as would Old Kamloops Road (except for the Blue Jay subdivision).

Silver Star Road would be the boundary between the two constituencies — pushing the BX fire hall into the Shuswap constituency while BX Elementary would be in Vernon-Monashee.

RDNO officials say the proposal could be difficult as Greater Vernon is united over water, culture and parks and often, decisions regarding those matterss requires provincial involvement.

“Issues round this table could involve two MLAs from two political parties,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.

“I don’t think it makes any sense. The biggest consideration is what could happen at the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee. It seems complicated to have two MLAs carrying our message.”

Opposition is also coming from other board members.

“It seems ridiculous,” said Catherine Lord, a Vernon director.

According to the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission, there’s a need to adjust boundaries because Vernon-Monashee is the most populated constituency in the region while Shuswap is the second smallest.

But Fleming believes only about 2,000 voters would be impacted.

“It (dividing Greater Vernon) seems awkward for the number of voters that would transition between the ridings,” he said.

Residents can review the commission’s preliminary recommendations and provide input online or by e-mail by May 26. Public hearings will also be held across B.C.

The commission must present a final report to the Legislature for consideration by Sept. 25.