The new federal electoral ridings are now as good as set in stone and Richmond is set to benefit from having two MPs dedicated solely to the city.
After more than 18 months of research and political debate, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission has issued its final report on proposed changes to ridings across B.C. And one of the upshots is that Richmond will now be served by Richmond Centre (primarily the current "Richmond" riding) and an entirely new riding - Steveston-Richmond East, severing its ties with Delta.
To beef up the potential voters for the new riding, six city centre blocks - southeast of Westminster Highway and No. 3 Road - will transfer from "Richmond" to "Steveston-Richmond East."
The change, which will come into effect for the 2015 election, will undoubtedly pose a significant dilemma for current Delta-Richmond East Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay.
Findlay, should she run in the next election, will have to choose between the new
Richmond riding and the new district dedicated solely to Delta.
During the lengthy consultation process in Ottawa, Findlay lodged several objections to the changes, including the division of the city centre between the two ridings.
According to her submission to the parliamentary committee, Findlay explained that the current "Richmond" riding formed a "community of interest, as an evolving high density area with its own unique business, residential, and recreational interests." As such, it should not be split in half.
However, Findlay did encourage the commission to include Steveston in what looks likely to be called Steveston-Richmond East.
Alice Wong, Tory MP for the current Richmond riding, welcomed the changes which, she says, recognizes the city's growing population.
"(The changes) are probably final, the commission has received the last input from the parliamentary committee," said Wong.
"I'm losing six city blocks, but it's a natural move because the city has grown drastically, especially on my side of the riding."
Votes lost or gained by the changes aren't a factor for the incumbent MPs or for the commission, according to Wong.
"We will now have two MPs dedicated to Richmond at the 2015 election and that has to be good for the city and its people," added Wong.
Community advocates in Steveston, meanwhile, are delighted their once sleepy fishing village is now being recognized on the federal election map.
Loren Slye, president of the Steveston Historical Society, described his home as an "up and coming community on the cusp of becoming a destination point."
"This change makes it very much a viable community," said Slye.
"This will now give Steveston some distinction and that could bring many benefits in the long run."
Bruce Rozenhart, past president of Steveston Historical Society and Volunteer Richmond, said the new Steveston-Richmond East MP will be able to focus solely on Richmond issues.
"It will be good to have total focus on our community," added Rozenhart.
"Kerry-Lynne has done marvelous work on the dredging (in the harbour) and the Seine net loft and she's made a very positive mark on Steveston."
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