LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS ACROSS THE NORTH UNITED IN OUTRAGE TO PROPOSED DROP IN ELECTORAL DISTRICTS.

PRINCE GEORGE ? The North Central Municipal Association has registered its unanimous opposition to the reduction of electoral districts as proposed by the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission. A motion to that effect was passed by the NCMA Executive during their recent meeting in Prince George.

?We?re collectively voicing our concern over the suggestion that the boundaries be realigned such that the north and rural communities have less representation in the legislature,? says NCMA President Eileen Benedict. ?The suggested boundaries create such huge ridings that the MLA?s in those ridings would be extremely hard pressed to provide fair representation to those living in such a vast area.?

The NCMA has developed an action plan aimed at voicing their opposition to the idea. The action plan includes making a presentation to the Commission when it stops in Prince George on September 5th, as well as crafting an emergency resolution to be put forward at the UBCM Convention in September, and creating a petition for rural and northern leaders to sign while they attend the UBCM Convention.

?This isn?t just an issue for the north but for all rural areas of the province that will have less of a voice in the decision making process if the recommendations are adopted,? added NCMA Vice President Murry Krause. ?The NCMA region will actually be losing 2 MLA?s and this is totally unacceptable?.

The Commission has suggested reducing the number of ridings in the north from eight to seven, reducing the Cariboo-Thompson region from five to four and also taking another riding away from Columbia Kootenay. At the same time, the Commission has recommended four new ridings in the lower mainland.

?We can?t underscore enough how much outrage is being voiced in the rural parts of the province over this suggestion,? says Benedict who added, ?this is particularly discouraging because we know that the province?s vast wealth is primarily generated from the northern and rural areas of the province.?

The NCMA represents the area of British Columbia above the 53rd parallel, from 100 Mile House to the Yukon border, and west to the Queen Charlotte Islands. The NCMA territory is an area equivalent to 68% of the province?s landmass, but the overall population of the region comprises only ten percent of the provincial total. The size, geographic location, and population of this territory, harsh weather conditions, and a resource-based economy create challenges which are often very different from those of other areas of British Columbia.

BACKGROUND

The NCMA?s Action Plan to address the suggestion by the Electoral Boundaries Commission to reduce the number of ridings in northern BC includes:

President Benedict will attend and speak at the City of Prince George rally on September 5th.

President Benedict will do a presentation to the Electoral Boundaries Commission at the public hearing on Sept 5th in Prince George.

NCMA will draft and send an Emergency Resolution to UBCM.

The NCMA Executive will meet with the Northern Caucus in September and seek their support to consider changes to the Act.

NCMA will develop a petition opposing the current recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission that will be available at the UBCM Area Association luncheon.

NCMA will prepare a ?Position Paper? to be submitted to the Electoral Boundaries Commission prior to November 15th.

All members of the Executive will seek speaking opportunities at all rallies being planned in conjunction with the Public Hearings being staged by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Rationale:

The rationale for opposing the current recommendations of the Commission includes:

The creation of ridings so large that it would be near impossible for an MLA to provide ?fair? representation to those living in that area.

The current recommendations did not fully consider the ?special circumstances? that apply to current ridings in the north. These ?special circumstances? were identified in the final report of the Commission in 1998.

Loss of representation would result in the continued development of policies that primarily focus on large metropolitan areas resulting in the continued urbanization of the province.

Adoption of these recommendations would simply fuel those that already feel a substantial disconnect with decision-making authorities in Victoria.

Many of the NCMA members feel that the recent census data is flawed, and the Electoral Boundary Commission made their recommendations based on incorrect population numbers.

SuperWalk for Parkenson?s

SuperWalk 2007 takes place throughout September in over 80 communities across Canada. Saturday, September 8 at Fort George Park in Prince George. Registration 9:30am, with walk start at 10am.

Contact Laurana 250-964-9695 for more information or visit www.superwalk.com.