The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)

B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

B.C.’s rural-urban political divide could be getting wider in the years to come, as the NDP government plans to remove protection for existing rural seats in the B.C. legislature and add more to areas with growing population.

Attorney General David Eby introduced changes to the next electoral boundary commission Monday, giving it the ability to add as many as six new seats to a legislature that is already crowded with 87 MLAs. It would also remove a restriction in place since 2014 that prevents reducing the number of northern and rural seats to balance population with urban zones.

MLAs of all parties agreed then that B.C.’s most far-flung constituencies can’t get any bigger and still be represented by a single elected member. At the time, Stikine and North Coast were the most thinly populated, with fewer than 23,000 residents scattered over huge areas, while some Vancouver constituencies had more than 60,000 people.

Eby said B.C.’s population is expected to grow by another 500,000 people, and the changes give the next electoral boundaries commission the ability to use its discretion, with a guideline that representation should only vary by plus or minus 25 per cent from the average size of constituencies.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said the changes will likely mean the loss of one or two seats in Northern B.C. and one in the Kootenay region, as urban populations continue to see the most growth.

RELATED: B.C. Liberals move to freeze number of rural seats

RELATED: Surrey gets ninth MLA, New Westminster gains one

“From 100 Mile House north, there are about 340,000 people,” Rustad wrote on Facebook Monday. “At 57,000 average population, the north could have as few as six seats from its current 10 seats.”

Electoral boundary reviews take place every six years, led by a B.C. Supreme Court judge. Former premier Gordon Campbell initiated the protection of rural seats after a 2008 review recommended eliminating one seat in the Cariboo-Thompson region and one in the North.

The most recent changes were prior to the 2017 election, with Surrey getting a ninth MLA and a new Richmond-Queensborough seat added to bring the number of seats to the current 87.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politics

Just Posted

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Million-dollar lotto ticket sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Carina Stokes, bar manager at Enderby’s Small Axe Bistro, was recognized as one of four exceptional B.C. restaurant workers by the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Contributed)
Enderby bar manager recognized as ‘stand-up’ B.C. restaurant worker

Small Axe Roadhouse’s Carina Stokes one of four to receive special recognition from the BCRFA

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read