Politicians and bureaucrats have sharply different opinions about new riding boundaries in the Southern Interior
The oversized Kelowna-Lake Country riding will lose a large urban area south of downtown Kelowna, which will be added to the proposed new rural riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. The boundary of that urban area is Harvey Avenue (Highway 97) from the Bennett Bridge to Dilworth Drive and then Mission Creek to Okanagan Lake.
The original suggestion last summer was to remove downtown Kelowna from the Kelowna-Lake Country riding and add it to the new rural riding which extends from the U.S. border almost to Kamloops.
"It's better, but the principle still applies," said Kelowna city manager Ron Mattiussi on Tuesday.
"The City of Kelowna does have concerns. We're an urban area and they are still carving out a huge urban portion, maybe the most urbanized portion of the Interior - at least south of Kamloops - and they're putting it into a very, very rural riding," he said.
"This urban piece has very little or no connection to a very large rural area. We are very concerned they are following the path of the provincial government. We would much rather be part of one riding."
In his presentation to the commission on Oct. 10, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray objected to losing the heart of the city, its downtown, to another riding. His first choice was not carving up the urban area at all, but if it had to be done, he suggested the commission carve up the urban area differently.
On the other side of the lake, "I'm sure we can work with it. We play nice with Kelowna. We don't see this as a problem," commented West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, noting the provincial riding of Westside-Kelowna includes downtown Kelowna.
"(The new federal riding) is a very diverse riding stretching almost to Hope and Kamloops. It does make more sense to me to have contiguous areas. By road, I guess it is contiguous. By air, by water, and not all that far away," he said.
"Certainly, there is a lot in common on West Kelowna and Kelowna issues, no matter where (the riding boundary) is. And it's all about the people (MPs) you get. You have to work with them."
Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Ron Cannan said that adding the large urban area south of Harvey Avenue to the new riding "is probably the best compromise."
He recalled Gray suggesting the commission go further south in dividing up the city.
"They had to take the numbers from somewhere (in Kelowna-Lake Country). They had to break it up somewhere. The reality is the heart of downtown will still be in the Kelowna-Lake Country riding. Having the downtown in Kelowna-Lake Country made more sense. I'm happy to represent the constituents wherever the riding is positioned. "
Cannan is pleased British Columbia will have six additional MPs in 2015 - "equal representation in the House of Commons."
In the commission's final tinkering, Keremeos in the South Okanagan was added to the new riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. And an area northwest of Vernon was removed and added to the North Okanagan-Shuswap riding.
The Central Okanagan-Simlkameen-Nicola population then dropped from the initial proposal of 107,929 to 104,398.