MLA defends status quo

The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission has been told to back off changes in Greater Vernon.

The B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission has  been told to back off changes in Greater Vernon.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, told the commission Wednesday that he doesn’t support a plan to remove the Swan Lake area and a portion of the BX from Vernon-Monashee and put it in the Shuswap constituency.

“People in the BX-Swan Lake corridor are part of the Greater Vernon area and they have no connection to Salmon Arm,” said Foster.

“I interact with them and know their electoral area directors quite well.”

Foster says he’s concerned Swan Lake/BX residents will have a difficult time receiving assistance if their MLA is based in a Salmon Arm office.

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. All of the regional district’s BX-Swan Lake electoral area would be in the Shuswap but BX-Silver Star would be divided.

Silver Star Foothills, which is part of the City of Vernon, will remain in Vernon-Monashee.

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

“If you look at representation by population, the first word is representation,” said Foster.

“The worst thing we can do is give people a feeling of disconnect when we are already having trouble getting people to vote.”

Foster has discussed the boundary issue with Greg Kyllo, current MLA for Shuswap.

“He already has a huge riding and to add more on to his geographical plate would be difficult,” said Foster.

The commission is reviewing input from the public and MLAs on its proposals and a final report will be presented to the Legislature Sept. 25.