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Riding change bad for Victoria, mayor says

Oct 19 2012

Splitting Victoria into two federal ridings would create confusion and wouldn't be good governance, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin has told a federal electoral boundaries commission hearing.

"We've seen in the broader sense the balkanization of the region has cost taxpayers both financially and in good governance," Fortin said prior to the hearing at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Under proposed changes, which would rejig existing boundaries and add a federal riding to Vancouver Island, Victoria West would become part of the newly named Esquimalt-Colwood riding.

The proposal, prompted by growth around Duncan and the West Shore, would create a new South Cowichan-Juan de Fuca riding with a population of 105,487 and including communities north and south of the Malahat. Other ridings would be altered to even out numbers.

Saanich-Gulf Islands is the only Vancouver Island riding not looking at major changes.

"Frankly, to have the citizens of Victoria West have to start to associate with the fact they belong to an Esquimalt-Colwood MP is confusing," Fortin said.

"Whether it be confusing on polling places, whether it be confusing on who is their representative and who they belong with - none of these add up to good governance."

Vic West's issues are urban and much of the area is becoming part of the downtown core, which has spread across the Johnson Street Bridge, Fortin said.

"There's just a general recognition that for good community representation and for good governance, it makes sense to keep the City of Victoria in the federal riding of Victoria."

Victoria MP Denise Savoie, who resigned in August due to health reasons, has said the boundaries commission focused too much on population numbers and not enough on geography.

Six new ridings are proposed for B.C., bringing the number of federal seats in the province to 42. The other five are on the Lower Mainland.

The commission will now complete its report, which will be considered by a parliamentary committee. A decision on the changes is expected to be made by next September.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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