The group was small and it came with a clear message for the Federal Electoral Boundary Commission.
Maureen Douglas, Susie Gimse and Jordan Sturdy all travelled to Squamish from the Pemberton area for a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 12 with the commissioners who are looking into how the federal election ridings in B.C. should be mapped in the future. Former Pemberton resident Lisa Ames, who now lives in Squamish, backed up the trio.
Sturdy addressed the three commissioners first and he made it clear that Pemberton and the surrounding areas shouldn't have been moved to a new riding in 2004 when boundary changes led to the village and Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) being shuffled out of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding and into the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley constituency.
"Pemberton council feels it should be returned," Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy told the commission.
The same message was repeated by Gimse, who is the regional district representative for Area C of the SLRD, and Douglas, who attended the meeting as a concerned citizen.
Sturdy pointed out that about 80 per cent of the homes in Pemberton send at least one member of the household each day to work in Whistler. Gimse said people in the area travel to Lillooet maybe once a year and she added that nobody travels to the federal constituency office in Chilliwack.
The commission chair, Justice John E. Hall, said he believed the decision to push Pemberton into the Fraser Valley riding in 2004 was done mainly to address population issues as the commission attempts to keep the number of constituents in each riding fairly consistent across the province.
The commission is working towards making recommendations for boundary shuffling scheduled for next year and the current recommendations suggest Pemberton should remain in the Fraser Valley riding.
In his presentation, Sturdy gave a list of reasons for putting Pemberton back into its former federal riding.
"Most business is conducted in the corridor and focuses naturally to the south and to Vancouver," said Sturdy. "I can drive from Pemberton to West Vancouver in two hours. Chilliwack would add another two and a half to three hours on a good day."
He added that grant applications for infrastructure, First Nations treaty relations, hospital foundations, regional transit, recreation, waste management, land use planning, education, policing and political delegations all group Pemberton with Whistler and Squamish.
Hall and the other two commissioners told the small crowd that the Pemberton concerns were heard loud and clear. The commissioners indicated they understood why residents wish to be reunited with the Sea to Sky riding.
B.C. will have six new electoral areas by 2015 to take the total number of ridings in B.C. to 42.
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