Electoral Reform in BC - Regional Districts and Provincial Electoral Districts, the Lower Mainland

(the elephant in the legislature)

And so we come to the last installment -- and definitely the most complicated at the "electoral district" end of things, referring, as always, to BC's Electoral Map and the Regional District Map.

When mapping ridings to the Fraser Valley Regional District, some of its area is lost to West Vancouver-Sea to Sky (see below) and some to Fraser-Nicola (as described earlier) but it also takes in some of Metro-Vancouver's territory in filling up Abbotsford South and Abbotsford West. I have lived for significant parts of my life on the western parts of those two ridings and the aggregation isn't entirely crazy. Purists will wonder what South Otter has in common with the village of Arnold (extreme ends of Abbotsford South) but these are all rural and semi-rural areas that look to urban Abbotsford as their centre of gravity. This preference exists to some extent, even in the west, where being "in Langley" might be thought to attract attention toward that urban centre. Maple Ridge-Mission, too, takes in part of Metro-Vancouver for the Maple Ridge end of its area, but since I am sketching things, not painting them per-pixel, I will accept the current boundaries as the source for my experiment.

I propose a new "Fraser Valley" seat consolidated from the new Chilliwack-Kent, Chilliwack, Abbotsford-Mission, Maple Ridge-Mission, Abbotsford-South and Abbotsford-West ridings. It would send six members proportionately chosen to the Legislature, representing about 46,300 people per member, slightly over-represented, but not by as much as many of the really rural areas of BC.

Before proposing my final new seat, a word about West Vancouver-Sea to Sky. This riding is unique in the whole province. At the south end, it is comprised of the farthest west portions of West Vancouver, up through Howe Sound to Squamish and Whistler, on to Pemberton, Birken, D'Arcy and Mount Currie. In short it is dominated geographically by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District but in serious danger of being dominated in regard to population by the part of Metro Vancouver that is included at the south end. Recognizing the hazard in doing so, I am going to include this riding in my Metro-Vancouver model if only because population does swamp geography. Yet if I'm wrong about the actual population counts, what little I know, guess or have been able to sniff out about people from Lions Bay to Whistler, is that this area is functioning more and more as a bedroom community and/or playground for Metro-Vancouver-centred folk, so this distortion shouldn't be enough to invalidate the results of my sketch.

My last proposal will be slightly controversial so I will be making a follow-on promise. Finally then...

I propose a new "Metro Vancouver" seat consolidated from the 42 ridings bounded by the Straight of Georgia to the southwest, and on land inclusively by Langley East, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and West Vancovuer-Sea to Sky. This seat would send 42 members proportionately selected based on a single ballot cast in that greater area. Each member would represent about 56,000 people, being under-represented by about 10%.

That will be the biggest part of my experiment but I submit that some sub-divisions may be appropriate. One such scheme might be in three parts:
  • a Vancouver-Sea to Mountains riding composed of Vancouver, Richmond and the North/West Van region, (18 members)
  • a North Fraser-Suburbs riding comprising Burnaby, New Westminster, Tri-Cities and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows (10 members) (maybe even leaving Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows out on its own?)
  • a South Fraser riding containing everything from Delta to Langley (13 members)
In the tradition of Thomas Piketty (who put all the data for "Capital" up on the web for others to examine), after the election is done and I've totted up my results, I will release the spreadsheet that I use for Metro-Vancouver with some sort keys in place to enable others to fiddle around and examine things further but I wouldn't recommend smaller divisions than this trio because it would tend to leave otherwise urban areas out of the anti-fragmentation effect that I look to find in Regionalized Proporitionality.

So, enough of this until May! If anyone from any other province in Canada wants to try to do something like this for their own piece of the Home and Native Land, please let me know on one of the Facebook posts and maybe we can compare notes later.

And I must get back to some matters of more immediate urgency that interrupted the gradual flow of this presentation when I first conceived of it.

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