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

The site of the new Mills Memorial Hospital project in Terrace on June 18, 2021. The provincial government is so far choosing not to comment on suggestions a new Mills Memorial Hospital will now cost in excess of $600 million. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Province silent on Terrace hospital construction cost

Health ministry urges citizens to stay tuned

The City of Terrace is setting up a town hall meeting to address the ‘crisis’ in the downtown area. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace council declares crisis in downtown

City staff are in the process of setting up town hall meeting

Terrace RCMP responded to 231 calls from June 7 through June 13, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Assault with a weapon, man climbing building among Terrace RCMP calls last week

Police responded to over 230 calls from June 7 to June 13, 2021

James Nathan Roberts, 38, was found dead May 15 by a Terrace RCMP officer patrolling the woods between the curling rink and the train tracks. Police are asking the public to come forward with any information. (Submitted photo)
Terrace police renews assistance plea a year into homicide investigation

Investigation began after James Roberts’ body was found in May 2020

This concept artwork from July 2020 shows the inland port planned for the former Skeena Cellulose mill site in Terrace. (Image courtesy Hatha Callis, Progressive Ventures Group)
VIDEO: Highlights of Terrace’s inland port public hearing

Council gave third reading to two zoning amendments on June 14

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Most Read