East end communities of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary have gained substantial support from residents in its efforts to avoid radical changes to the federal electoral boundary.
As of March 6, Beaver Valley communities had collected over 1,100 signatures opposed to the change in the electoral boundary; a considerable amount given there are about 1,740 eligible voters in Montrose, Fruitvale and Area A.
“We hope the boundary commission carefully consider their own mandate to recognize communities of interest and identity,” said Area A director Ali Grieve. “Maintaining the current boundaries is important for the regional district as a united region with its own economic and social identity.”
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission draft plan would see the Greater Trail community split in half. Beaver Valley, comprised of Area A, Montrose and Fruitvale, will join the East Kootenay, while Trail, Warfield, and Rossland would join Similkameen-West Kootenay riding that stretches along southern B.C. to Princeton and includes Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos.
“The federal boundary changes make no sense,” said Trail Mayor Colleen Jones. “The Beaver Valley communities of Montrose, Fruitvale and Area A are part of a corridor that included Rossland, Warfield, Trail and Area B. We are connected communities of the Lower Columbia region and we must remain as one.”
Area A director Grieve, Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette, and Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh joined their counterparts in Area B, Trail, Warfield, and Rossland in sharing their concerns in a letter to Madam Justice Mary Saunders, chair of the commission.
The letter addresses how the realignment would unnecessarily split the Greater Trail community and its common socio-economic interests.
“We are all bedroom communities of the Lower Columbia region wherein lies our main industry (Teck Metals), regional hospital, shared recreational and cultural opportunities and multiple other services. That is the community of Interest for the Beaver Valley.”
The letter also questions why the commission did not have a public consultation opportunity in the West Kootenay, but rather held one in Cranbrook in June 2022, which according to the commission report, was attended by three people.
“We find it unacceptable the commission has not provided us a chance to comment following such impactful changes to our riding,” said Fruitvale Mayor Morissette.
Montrose, Fruitvale and Area A have also received numerous queries from constituents who have found the proposal confusing and upsetting.
Residents were asked to send their concerns to South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings by March 6, so he can present them to the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which can then make recommendations to the commission.