Electoral Reform in BC - Regional Districts and Provincial Electoral Districts, Kamloops the not-quite-urban

​(Again, I'm referring all through here to the Electoral Map and the Regional District Map but I don't think this installment will be confusing enough for the colorization that was required last time.)

After the last installment, I took some time to sift through what was left (the most urban parts of BC) and other than the "problem" of what to do with Whistler, and what to do about the places under consideration here, my confidence that Regionalized Proportionality would serve BC well has been unequivocally strengthened. Bear in mind that while we've dealt with the greatest part of the land area of BC, we have still only talked about 26 seats in the projected 87 seat legislature to be elected this spring. Rural BC has good reason to feel a little swamped by the urban parts in size. Hopefully their moderate over-representation softens the blow somewhat.

Outside of the long-time urban areas of Vancouver (in its largest senses) and Victoria, Kamloops and Kelowna are the other two more urban parts of BC and they represent, in my mind, the boundary between where Regionalized Proportionality would leave existing ridings as they were or consolidate them into proportional blocks. Let's take them on one at a time.

Urban Kamloops lies entirely within the Thompson-Nicola regional district. Electorally the district is split into three ridings with a large but sparsely populated additions from two other regional districts:

  • Squamish-Lillooet: north portions in the Fraser watershed, but not via Harrison Lake
  • Fraser Valley: upstream of the Harrison River around the Fraser watershed
  • And from Okanagan-Similkameen, the part of Manning Park that isn't in the Fraser watershed (and hence in the Fraser Valley regional district).
This last point reflects the difference between highway logistics (split the park on or around the summit; deal with the west slope from Hope, deal with the east from Princeton) and political concerns (people who live in Manning Park probably have more in common with each other than not, electorally speaking).

The three ridings each have their own character.

Kamloops-North Thompson follow the same pattern as the ridings around Prince George very closely: take part of the urban area (north side of Kamloops) and include its closest hinterland (the communities between there and not quite up to Valemount, following the Thompson watershed boundary, actually).

Fraser Nicola approaches "metro Kamloops" from the south but from the detail that I see, probably doesn't quite get there, so it probably represents the most south-westerly mainland riding in BC comparable with the rural ridings farther north and east. The largest community it includes would be Merritt, at about 7,100 people. The rest are names familiar from road trips in my childhood: Hope, Yale, Spuzzum, Boston Bar, Lytton, Spences Bridge, Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Clinton to name off the points within the riding that we would drive through when I was a child. Where were we going? Oh, just from the Fraser Valley and one set of relatives, to Williams Lake where my Dad's youngest sister and her family were for many years. Little places, many of those, that have lost all of their Alberta-bound through-traffic since the Coquihalla Highway opened 30 years ago.

Kamloops-South Thompson, though, while taking in the closest hinterlands to metro Kamloops, is not very vast in area, stretching from Savona to Chase and Westwold. Savona to either of Chase or Westwold takes about an hour to drive now, says google maps but travel times would be longer where significant backroads access is required. This is almost an urban/suburban mix, although outside of "metro Kamloops", the thought might be resisted. Would the people of Kamloops want to be lumped together for a regional proportional list? They should have a say but my guess would be that the ridings they have suit the population as it currently stands.

So my scheme probably wouldn't affect these places at all. Kamloops, if it were to become its own riding, even including all of what is now Kamloops-South Thompson would only have two members at current levels -- not enough to be interesting for a proportional ballot. And doing so would leave at least one hinterland -- the North Thompson, without a natural place to collect with to keep it from being too greatly over-represented. As it stands, these three ridings represent a bit more than 128,000 people at 42,800 per riding, bringing the over-all average up slightly to 42,500 per member of the legislative assembly.

Not a bad mix and for the task as it was assigned, I have no words of reproof for Elections BC.

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