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Federal electoral ridings to be reviewed

It's that time of decade again, and the boundaries of the federal riding Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission could soon change.

Every decade, Canada’s electoral boundaries are reviewed and redrawn to account for migration and population growth based on census figures.

B.C. is set to get six new ridings as the boundaries are redrawn, with the number of MPs rising to 42 from 36.

The recently established three-person Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. has begun its review, headed by the Honourable John E. Hall and commissioners Stewart Ladyman and J. Peter Meekison.

Hall, a judge in the Court of Appeal in Vancouver, was appointed by the Chief Justice to be commission chairman last December.

Hall said he expects most of the six new seats to wind up in the Fraser Valley on both sides of the river, although it could potentially affect electoral lines in Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver as well.

Commissions tend to limit each federal riding to 105,000 people, though that's not always possible in expansive northern ridings like Skeena-Bulkley Valley. Hall said commissions tend to work with the numbers, but aren't the only factor, also looking at community interest and historical considerations.

Mission was part of the federal Dewdney-Alouette riding prior to the 2004 federal election, a territory spreading as far east as the Harrison River and north to the southern end of Lillooet Lake. Before that, Mission-Coquitlam existed from 1988-1997, and Mission-Port Moody from 1979-1988.

Hall pointed to the Fraser Valley as a prime area for future growth, a trend he expects to continue over the next decade.

"I've done some driving around out there... and I was really quite astounded what was going on through Cloverdale, Langley. And when I went through Mission I thought it's not all that big a difference from the old days, but it's starting to seep out there from the edge of Maple Ridge, so that's going to grow a bit.

"I don't know if it'll go as far out as places like Ruskin, but you know it's going to start there some time."

Mission's MP, Randy Kamp, said the word in political circles is that almost every riding in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley region will likely be reshaped.

"It's an interesting process and I'm very interested to see" the findings of the commission, he said from Ottawa.

After the commission has drafted its proposal, the new electoral map will be published so the public can comment, and an estimated 20 public hearings will be held in the fall.

After the public's views are considered, the commission will submit a report to the House of Commons, where MPs will provide feedback that will then be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.

A final report is then submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada for preparation of a document called a “representation order.”

This final step allows the new electoral map to be officially implemented, and used at the first general election called at least seven months after the representation order becomes law, likely in time for the 2015 general election. If an election is called before one year elapsing following adoption, the old system would be used.

To learn more visit www.federal-redistribution.ca.

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