Whistler rallies to remain in S2S riding 

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Whistler resident Ralph Forsyth is urging people to make their voices heard when it comes to remaining in the Sea to Sky riding.

Call MP John Weston. Call MP Mark Strahl. Call the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia. Do not take the potential changes on Whistler's horizon lightly, he said.

Calling the current proposal that would move Whistler out of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country federal riding and into Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon "insane," Forsyth said the time to act is now, even if the public consultation period is over.

"It's the 11th hour so people need to act now," he said. "They can't just be outraged later if it does happen. They have to call this commission right now. And even though the doors are closed and the opportunity for public hearing is past, politicians hear the ripples in the ocean from very far away, whether it's open or not."

Whistler's Member of Parliament John Weston has heard the concerns in the last week after the proposal that would move Whistler out of the Sea to Sky riding and into the Fraser Canyon came to light.

This proposal, which was put to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs by a handful of MPs in March, calls for Powell River to stay in the riding and removes Whistler and Pemberton, shaking up Sea to Sky significantly. It also comes after the commission received its final report, adding Pemberton to the Sea to Sky riding and removing Powell River — a compromise that was well received in Sea to Sky.

Weston stressed again this week that he has always maintained the position that Whistler should remain in the riding and said as much in his submission to the commission in October.

He called the commission this week to ensure his position is on the record. "I've consistently said that I thought Whistler should be in the riding," said Weston.

"That letter stands as my clearest statement in the eyes of the commission."

His letter states, among other things: "Many of the secondary residences owned at Whistler are owned by people of West Vancouver, due to proximity and a common allegiance to Alpine life. Our family is typical; our children grew up in Whistler and Vancouver and love to ski, and it was natural for us to acquire a secondary residence at Whistler."

Keeping Whistler with West Vancouver was priority number two in his submission, adding Powell River was fourth on the list.

After reflecting on the matter over the week, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who was outraged upon learning of the proposal, said: "I would be surprised if the commission changed its mind and we were taken out of the riding."

Still, council isn't taken any chances in getting Whistler's point across. At Tuesday's meeting it unanimously passed two motions: council will snd a letter to the commission stating that Whistler would like to stay in its current federal riding, and a letter to the Speaker of the House and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs stating its objections to allowing MP's to provide input after the public consultation period is over.

Pemberton mayor and Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy also took action at the village's council meetings Tuesday putting forward three resolutions on the issue.

"We made a presentation to the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission in Squamish last year and we thought we'd made progress... To the surprise of virtually everybody, the parliamentary committee instead decided to add Whistler to Pemberton," Sturdy said.

The first resolution is that the council will send a letter to the commission stating "it would be appropriate for the Village of Pemberton and Pemberton Valley to be moved back and the Resort Municipality of Whistler to remain in the electoral district of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country due to its historical and geographical alignment with the communities from West Vancouver to Pemberton for business, recreation and social activities..."

The other resolutions committed to sending letters on this to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the federal Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to protest MPs being allowed to provide input after the public consultation period has close. Weston and Strahl will also receive copies of the letter.

The resolutions passed unanimously.

Forsyth, meanwhile, stressed the importance of keeping Whistler in the Sea to Sky. "We're the Sky," he said. "There's no Sea to Sky without us.

"This affects everything in your life. People seem more interested in watching 'Dancing With the Stars' and the outcome of that. This is the real reality. This is your life. This is your taxes. This is how your government operates. This is how responsive your MP is."

The commission will submit its final report to the Speaker of the House of Commons this summer.

— with files from Cathryn Atkinson

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