They came, they saw, they didn't listen.
That was the bottom line for Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino when she discovered her town is part of the proposed new federal riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, a mostly rural riding that stretches from the U.S. border almost all the way to Kamloops. Penticton, meanwhile, will be in South Okanagan-West Kootenay, which stretches to Trail and Castlegar in the east.
"Ask me if I'm angry. I'm angry," said Perrino in an interview with The Okanagan Sunday. "They told me that it was because of numbers, strictly numbers. Well, why did you invite us to speak on the issue back in October if you were going to do it by numbers and you didn't care less about what people thought? I don't feel listened to or heard by this commission."
Representatives of Summerland council and numerous Summerland residents opposed the boundary change at a hearing organized by the B.C. federal boundaries commission, she noted.
"The difference for us is that many, many of us, including myself, live in either Penticton or Summerland and commute to the other city. I live in Summerland and commute for one of my jobs in Penticton. So we're crossing ridings. It wouldn't be so bad if it was an hour, but we're talking 10 to 15 minutes. That's where it gets really silly."
From her point of view as mayor, Perrino said she will be forced to work with two MPs.
"If it happened today, I'd have to work with my Conservative MP that lives in West Kelowna and I'd have to work with my NDP MP that lives in Castlegar. So how am I going to get grants?"
Perrino wants to be in one riding that makes the most common sense.
"We do all of our regional work with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen in Penticton. Even our federal grants have to go through the RDOS. We do all of our school board in Penticton. We do all of our RCMP in Penticton. We do all of our health care in Penticton. We do everything with Penticton. We do literally nothing to the north, with West Kelowna."
If the boundary change goes through for the 2015 federal election, Summerland hopes that the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP gets along well with whoever the MP is in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, she said.
"The federal government has been amazing with us. There was nobody like (former MP) Stockwell Day. I want that relationship again," said Perrino.