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Saanich calls for just one MP

Oct 27 2012

Saanich is following Victoria's lead in arguing for a single MP.

Saanich council this week decided to write to the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission asking for a federal riding that respects the community's identity.

The resolution was put forward by Coun. Judy Brownoff, who says the community of Saanich is being lost with every boundary adjustment. Parts of Saanich are included in three federal ridings: Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca (or the proposed new Esquimalt-Colwood), Saanich-Gulf Islands and Victoria.

"The problem with Saanich is, because we're the largest municipality on this Island and because the other electoral districts don't meet the magic number of 104,000 [population], they carve us all up in Saanich. So we don't have an identity," Brownoff said.

Last week, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin told a federal electoral boundaries commission hearing that splitting Victoria into two federal ridings would create confusion and wouldn't provide good governance.

As a result of the proposal to add a federal riding to Vancouver Island, existing boundaries would be rejigged, moving Victoria West into the newly named Esquimalt-Colwood riding, Fortin said.

In Saanich, Brownoff's resolution received unanimous council support.

"The thinking, with other people that I've spoken to, is why can't we have Saanich as a separate riding? Why do we have to have it chopped up all the time and why would we have it segmented off to Esquimalt and Colwood?" acting mayor Paul Gerrard said. Saanich, as one of the province's larger municipalities, deserves better, Gerrard said.

"It seems like we're being carved up like a chicken," he said, adding that while major changes are not proposed to Saanich-Gulf Islands, redistribution would see Swan Lake and part of Quadra Street moved into the proposed Esquimalt-Colwood riding. "That's crazy," Ger-rard said. "That's just an example of a riding that's going to change and it doesn't make any geographical sense."

Brownoff also pointed out that, under the proposed changes, Saanich's municipal hall would move to the Esquimalt-Colwood riding.

The federal boundary changes, 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 include communities north and south of the Malahat.

Other ridings would be altered to even out numbers.

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's report will considered by a parliamentary committee and a decision on the changes is expected to be made by next September.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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