Plan to divide Greater Vernon into two provincial ridings scrapped

Proposal called for Swan Lake area and a portion of the BX to be removed from Vernon-Monashee

Public pressure has forced the B.C. Boundaries Commission to back off a controversial plan to split Greater Vernon.

In its final report to the Legislature, the commission has decided not to remove the Swan Lake area and a portion of the BX from Vernon-Monashee and place it in the Shuswap constituency.

“They listened to us and that’s a good news story,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake regional district director.

The commission made the proposal earlier this year as a way of achieving population equity among the two provincial constituencies. However, it generated considerable resistance from community leaders and the public.

“If the MLA had become Shuswap, residents would have had to drive up to the constituency office in Salmon Arm,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

It was pointed out to the commission that Swan Lake and the BX are tied in to a number of services with the rest of Greater Vernon, and having two MLAs could make it challenging for the regional district to lobby for support.

“It’s about good representation and that’s not good representation,” said Macnabb.

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

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

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

“I felt it would create confusion and impede voter turnout,” said Fleming.

In its final report, the B.C. Electoral Area stated that it’s proposal to move Swan Lake and part of the BX into the Shuswap was a result of needing to balance the number of voters in the constituencies.

“However, after consideration of the responses to our proposals and in consideration that the population difference in the two electoral districts is only 10 per cent, we decided to revisit this decision and propose no change to the existing boundaries in this area.”

The commission’s report must still be accepted by the Legislature.