Ladysmith’s mayor plans to speak with the province after the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission released its final report for re-designed ridings.
The commission presented its final report last week, recommending that the Greater Nanaimo area’s three ridings be re-aligned into Nanaimo-Gabriola, Nanaimo-Lantzville and Ladysmith-Oceanside.
The proposed change would mean that Ladysmith, Saltair and Cassidy would become part of a riding with Nanoose Bay, Parksville and Qualicum Beach, encircling Nanaimo’s two ridings.
Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone said he disagrees with the proposal, stating the new ridings will create a disconnect “that just doesn’t make sense.”
“If you look at the previous few censuses, we’re all focused on different demographic directions,” he said. “Parksville and Qualicum are continuing to age while we’re continuing to try to attract families and get younger.”
Stone said historically, Ladysmith has strong ties with communities in the Cowichan Valley and noted that the town is a member of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. He said it “becomes really challenging when we don’t have those established relationships in representation.”
Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, suggested he’s indifferent to the recommended riding changes.
“[Boundaries] are always more difficult when they’re first issued, then people adapt and find ways to build new relationships, and preserve those that they already have,” he said.
Routley has been serving as an MLA to the Ladysmith and south Nanaimo area since 2005 and he has experienced multiple boundary changes in his career.
“The past couple of terms I’ve have had to go into the Nanaimo constituency to take a ferry to Gabriola to an island I represent as [Nanaimo]-North Cowichan. So that was a little different. I can definitely empathize with people,” he said. “But again, everyone from [Ladysmith council] and the various council members on Chemainus council, the school board trustees, we’ve got a really dynamic and capable group of people who are doing really good things. I find them all to be really good partners and I just have a lot of confidence that they’ll translate that into the new arrangements.”
In the commission’s final report, the boundary between the Nanaimo-Gabriola and Nanaimo-Lantzville ridings is Strathmore Street and Meredith Road.
The electoral boundaries commission held consultation in Nanaimo in November based on its preliminary report. The alignment of the Greater Nanaimo ridings in the preliminary report was significantly different and the ridings were referred to at the time as Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Nanaimo-Gabriola and Nanaimo-Oceanside.
The commission’s final report to B.C.’s Legislative Assembly was tabled on Monday, April 3. It is now up to the legislature to decide whether to accept the recommendations.