MLA Laurie Throness appeared before the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission in Victoria on Wednesday, May 27th to represent the people of Hope in their bid to be excluded from the Fraser-Nicola riding.
In total, 396 names were collected in a petition that Throness sent expediently to the Commission on behalf of his constituents in Hope.
“In a community the size of Hope, it’s quite remarkable to get 396 signatures on any petition, let alone one on a subject as obscure and technical as a boundary redistribution and that in just a few weeks,” said Throness.
Hope District Council passed a unanimous resolution on April 13th that stood firmly against the proposed redistribution.
The Chamber also appeared before the Commission on April 14th to speak in opposition along with business leaders, private citizens, former mayors and local non-profits.
“People say we tried this before, we did this in the 80’s and we didn’t receive good representation. We felt neglected by our MLA and so we want someone who is closer to us and that means probably someone from Chilliwack,” said Throness.
Other reasons for the strong opposition included geographic and economic concerns. Hope is geographically part of the valley rather than the interior, and its geographic interests are aligned with the valley according to the MLA.
The Hope area is part of the economy of the valley, and the main economic business from Hope runs west toward Chilliwack as opposed to east toward Princeton or Merritt.
There are many Hope residents who work in Chilliwack and the other way around.
“It’s just a completely different character issue and I think the Commission should think about more than just numbers — they’re trying to get the numbers fairly even throughout, which is a perfectly valid goal, but they need to look at the cultural and economic characteristics of the riding,” Throness told The Hope Standard. On the decision of the Commission, Throness predicted the outcome could be positive.
“I have some optimism that Hope might be included in the riding — the Commission is an independent body and the decision will probably be in September, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that the wishes of the people of Hope will be listened to.”