Delta residents need to know about major changes proposed for their federal electoral boundaries and speak out in opposition.
That was the consensus at city council on Monday, May 16 during discussion on a staff report regarding changes that could see the riding carved into three with areas lumped into Richmond and Surrey.
Agreeing to have the city raise awareness and encourage people to attend an upcoming public hearing in South Delta, councillors described the proposal as a “massacring of the lines” which will leave part of Delta in the “extreme minority” if the changes go ahead.
Council agreed to write to the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to convey Delta's opposition and request that Delta remain as a single electoral district.
In 2015, federal electoral boundaries in B.C. were reconfigured to combine both North Delta and South Delta into one Delta riding.
Previously, the municipality was split with the ridings of Delta-Richmond East and Newton-North Delta.
However, Delta could once again be divided as the commission is proposing a new riding called Delta that would see Ladner, Tsawwassen and North Delta below 72 Avenue join part of Surrey, extending all the way to King George Highway.
Another part of North Delta would be lumped into Surrey as part of a Surrey riding, while another area of North Delta and the River House area of Ladner would join a newly reconfigured Richmond East.
“These proposed changes would, once again, result in in the community of Delta being fragmented in terms of electoral representation. Large sections of the North Delta population will be represented by elected officials in Richmond and Surrey, and Delta's MP would also have to represent a large area of west Surrey. Not only would this situation be confusing for Delta voters, it would serve to undermine Delta's identity as a single, united community,” the Delta staff report notes.
Saying it’s part of a mandated process of regular reviews to make sure there’s fairness, so that ridings with smaller populations don’t have more voting weight than those with more people, Justice Mary Saunders, chair of the three-member commission, recently told the Optimist the changes are mainly in response to the significant, but uneven population growth.
She said no one riding, including Delta, which on its own is fine, is singled out, but changes needed several ridings away can result in a domino effect.
At Delta council this week, Mayor George Harvie, who said he spoke with Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie who was also opposed, noted he will speak at the hearing.
Coun. Dylan Kruger said he’ll also be there to raise concerns.
Coun. Bruce McDonald noted that while it’s fine to speak in opposition and tell the commission to leave Delta alone, it’s a complex issue that will require the commission to be presented with alternatives.
Council also agreed to request a public hearing take place in North Delta because it will be impacted the greatest.
The commission is holding 27 public hearings, in-person and virtual, to gather comments and feedback on the proposed boundaries and electoral district names.
One of those will be held at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn on Thursday, June 9, starting at 7 p.m.
Those wanting to make a presentation are asked to send the commission a notice no later than a week prior.
For more information about the proposed electoral boundary changes, the public hearings or to make a presentation, check out: redistribution2022.ca.