THE North Shore is poised to have three MPs in Ottawa after the next federal election, including one tasked with representing both North Burnaby and the eastern side of the North Shore.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission issued its final report Monday on how the province's ridings should be redrawn to make room for six new seats in Parliament.
Boundary commissions seek to keep every riding at a population of about 105,000 residents according to census data tracked every 10 years.
In its report, the borders of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding remain roughly the same, minus the 20,000 or so voters in Powell River, who will now join a north Vancouver Island riding. North Vancouver however will now by split in two along the western bank of the Seymour River, according to the report. However, the map on the commission website shows the new riding's western boundary as Lynn Creek.
Burnaby North-Seymour goes as far south as Lougheed Highway in Burnaby.
The change is not going over well with the New Democrat MP who would seek to represent Burnaby North-Seymour in 2015. Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart won his riding by just two per cent on election night in 2011 and he now worries the commission may have gerrymandered (redrawn election lines for the benefit of one party) a new Conservative seat in Parliament.
"If all things were held equal and the election were fought on these boundaries, I probably would have lost by about seven per cent. It's a fairly big swing partisan-wise," Stewart said.
Stewart led an attempt to keep the boundaries as-is during a public hearing process that took place over the summer and fall last year. Stewart's effort included conducting a phone survey that found the proposed changes almost universally unpalatable.
"In both communities, 80 per cent of folks were opposed to this merger," he said. "To me, this is a disappointing story in terms of public consultation."
But the commission had little choice according to Justice John Hall, British Columbia commission chairman. After the last redistricting, the North Shore grew to the point it was under-represented to the tune of 70,000 people.
The commission looked at other alignments that didn't cross Burrard Inlet, but they involved cutting through West Vancouver and pulling in pieces of Pemberton, which didn't make any more sense, Hall said.
"We certainly didn't get a lot of kudos at the public hearing but it was difficult to think of sensible alternatives with regard to the very heavy population numbers we had to start with," Hall said.
As for the criticism that the creation of Burnaby North-Seymour will likely benefit the Conservatives, Hall pointed that the non-partisan commission has ruffled feathers in every party as it adds six new ridings in the province.
"I certainly don't know how that will pan out. I guess that sometimes one member of Parliament will be happy with it. A Conservative member was saying to us on the Island that he thought this was bad news for his party," Hall said.
Andrew Saxton, Conservative MP for the existing North Vancouver riding, said he too would have preferred to keep the riding as whole but he understood the commission's reasons.
"The status quo is no longer an option and that's why the commission has come up with this recommendation," he said.
In the meantime, Stewart said he plans to campaign on issues that will make the two sides of Burrard Inlet natural allies in the 2015 election including fighting the Kinder Morgan pipelines expansion.