Today in the Legislature we continued debate on a motion to support the changes to electoral boundaries proposed by the British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission. The final report, dated September 24, 2015, recommends the addition of two new ridings (one in Richmond and one in Surrey) and sees changes to 48 of the current 85 electoral districts. The riding of Oak Bay – Gordon Head is slightly modified.
As shown in the two maps below, the boundary between Victoria-Beacon Hill and Oak Bay-Gordon Head shifts from Foul Bay Road to Richmond Avenue all the way from Haultain Street to Fairfield Road near the water. This brings the Royal Jubilee Hospital, the Victoria College of Art, Glenlyon-Norfolk Pemberton Woods campus and Margaret Jenkins Elementary (my alma mater) into the riding. The riding boundary then follows Fairfield Road until St. Charles Street where it turns, beside Ross Bay cemetery, until it reaches Dallas Road.
As noted in their Mission Statement:
In a rare moment of unanimity, every MLA in the legislature spoke, or is continuing to speak, in favour of the motion. I did as well today, and reproduce part of the video and text below.
A. Weaver: It gives me great pleasure to rise and speak to the motion before, the motion which is:
“Be it resolved that in accordance with section 14 of the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 107, the proposals contained in the Final Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission tabled in the Legislative Assembly on September 28, 2015 be approved.“
Now, to remind those riveted to their television sets across British Columbia, section 14 of the Electoral Boundaries Commissions Act states the following:
“If the Legislative Assembly, by resolution, approves or approves with alterations the proposals of the commission, the government must, at the same session, introduce a Bill to establish new electoral districts in accordance with the resolution.“
I rise, along with every other member in this House, to speak in support of the resolution before us and, specifically, to thank, at the onset, the work done by the Electoral Boundaries Commission and, in particular, the Hon. Mr. Justice Thomas J. Melnick, the commission chair; Beverley Busson, the commissioner; and Keith Archer, Chief Electoral Officer and commissioner.
Now, this report was done, obviously, in an non-partisan manner. It is one that reflected the values of British Columbians in terms of trying best to put their needs and interests first and foremost in the setting of electoral boundary limits
I represent the riding of Oak Bay–Gordon Head, a riding that, under these proposed changes, would expand ever so slightly to an area of 330 square kilometres with a 4.8 percent deviation above the provincial average in terms of population, and the population would be 55,689.
Oak Bay–Gordon Head is 330 square kilometres because it contains quite a number of islands off the shore, and I must confess to being remiss to visiting these islands frequently. Trial Island, the Chatham Islands, Discovery Island, Griffin Island, Great Chain Island…. There’s a number of these islands which are within the electoral boundary, and they carry over from before. Very sparsely populated. Trial Island has a lighthouse keeper. Chatham Islands — a First Nations reserve — the last long-time resident recently moved off that. And Discovery Island is largely a marine park. Nevertheless, I do represent these ridings as well as the entire district of Oak Bay contained within the boundary and a substantial component of Saanich.
Now, in the capital region, the proposed changes for my riding are subtle. They’re subtle, and they come at the expense with respect to my colleague in Victoria–Beacon Hill. The Electoral Boundaries Commission, in reflecting upon the boundary changes, really had one of two changes that it could make consistently in order to actually bring our population number up, which I recognize has gone down a little bit.
One was near Mount Doug, where, along Cedar Hill Road, there’s a small subdivision towards the north side that could have been brought in. Historically, this was part of the riding when the Hon. Ida Chong was the MLA representing the region, but in previous reports it got taken out. And the other, which, frankly, I think, is more supported, is to continue the natural divide between Victoria–Beacon Hill and Oak Bay–Gordon Head along Richmond Road.
The reason why I say it’s a natural divide is because there was this very odd little corner by Jubilee Hospital that, frankly, confused the voters, because this little corner in Oak Bay–Gordon Head was shared by the member for Victoria–Swan Lake, the member for Victoria–Beacon Hill and my riding. In fact, it was not uncommon for constituents in Oak Bay–Gordon Head to get electoral information from constituents in Victoria–Beacon Hill and vice versa, because it was this little odd corner in the riding that has been corrected in this.
Oak Bay–Gordon Head is very proud to bring the Royal Jubilee Hospital back into our riding. It’s a natural home for the riding because so many constituents live nearby it and work nearby it. We get to continue down Richmond Road. We now bring the Victoria College of Art — another natural home for Oak Bay–Gordon Head, the Victoria College of Art — and another high school, making us, in Oak Bay–Gordon Head, I would reckon, probably the most high-school-rich, university-rich, college-rich riding in the province.
With the inclusion now of the senior school of Glenlyon Norfolk, we now have, in Oak Bay–Gordon Head, three public high schools: the brand-new Oak Bay, Lambrick Park — the school my daughter graduated at — Mount Doug, St. Michael’s University School and now Glenlyon as well. Five high schools. But on top of that, we also have Camosun College, which is right on the boundary there of Richmond Road, and the University of Victoria. And we have a diversity of other colleges, including the Victoria College of Art and the Canadian Centre for the Performing Arts. We have a number of elementary schools, some of them private, some of them not.
We have Maria Montessori, an additional high school that actually, this year, is graduating its first grade 12 class. It used to just be K to 7, but now it is…. So that would make us three private schools, three public schools, a college and a university, and we’re very proud to bring the hospital into our riding as well.
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