Report recommends New Westminster have one MP

New Westminster, including Queensborough, will be serviced by one member of parliament if the recommendations of the federal electoral boundaries commission report are adopted.

In its report released Monday, the commission changed its mind on moving Queensborough to a proposed riding of Richmond East. Instead, all of New Westminster along with the southeast corner of Burnaby will form the riding of New Westminster-Burnaby.

Currently, New Westminster is served by the ridings of Burnaby-New Westminster and New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody.

The latest census shows the new riding's population as 108,652 which is 3.71 per cent above the electoral quota of 104,763 the commission was using as its benchmark.

The commission chaired by Justice John E. Hall held 23 public hearings throughout British Columbia in the fall including a session in New Westminster on Sept. 26 in which 17 presentations were made.

"The Commission received a large number of submissions opposing [Queensborough's inclusion in Richmond East]. Although this geographic area is physically a part of Lulu Island, considerations of historical patterns of representation and community of interest have favoured the transfer of Queensborough back with New Westminster in the New Westminster-Burnaby electoral district," said the report.

Although disappointed with the report overall, Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian was happy to see Queensborough won't be separated from New West.

"Folks considered that dumb, and I'm thankful the commission listened there," said Julian. "I'm happy the voices of Queensborough were heard but I think the commission should have listened to the voices of the public."

He was particularly upset the commission had chosen to combine a portion of North Vancouver with North Burnaby.

"It wasn't the problem with quota because there were a couple of suggestions in which the riding proportions would be the same," said Julian.

With his current riding being proposed to be split into two, Julian said he hasn't give any thought to whether he would run Burnaby South or New Westminster-Burnaby in the next election, likely in 2015.

"I'll need to give some thinking to that over the next little while. I just want to stress the priority is serving all of the constituents of Burnaby and New Westminster that I serve now."

Donnelly would have preferred the commission recommend something closer to the status quo.

"I'm disappointed the commission did not listen to the public. The message was clear that what the current makeup for the riding was working well. This changes that current makeup," said Donnelly.

Although the redistribution would mean New Westminster would be all in one riding, that wasn't necessarily a good thing, according to Donnelly.

"You cannot look at in isolation, unfortunately because it's always a chain reaction in including certain communities and not including communities when trying to get that population quotient. There can definitely be any pros and any cons to any makeup they are proposing."

Donnelly wouldn't say which riding, New Westminster-Burnaby or Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, he would seek a seat in for the next federal election.

"That's where I have to talk to my colleagues. No decision has been made yet. It's too early. These are just preliminary boundaries," said Donnelly.

The report will go before a parliamentary committee in the next 30 days before it is sent to the House of Commons for final approval.

Overall, it recommends adding six ridings to B.C., including five in the Lower Mainland.

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