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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Proposed redistribution of provincial electoral districts on the basis of nodal regions Chalk, John Robert

Abstract

Provincial electoral districts were first created in British Columbia in I869. At that time the criteria used to determine the ridings on the mainland were the existing mining division boundaries and on Vancouver Island the land district boundaries. Since 1869 many different sets of constituency boundaries have been used in the province. At all times the government has attempted to give the more settled areas the greatest number of electoral seats and yet provide each region of the province with legislative representation. Since electoral ridings were initiated, however, there has not been a stated policy by which the legislature has determined new constituency boundaries. In certain instances areal size has been the determining factor in deliniation, whereas in other cases electoral numbers were used. In 1965 the ratio of voting numbers between the largest constituency and the smallest was in excess of twenty-five votes to one. It was therefore believed that a major revision of British Columbia's electoral boundaries was due. There are three major methods by which new political boundaries may be determined; these being representation by population, by area, and by community of interest. Each method has certain qualities and liabilities. Representation by population is considered the best method of boundary delineation because the votes of all persons are then of equal weight. Since British Columbia contains such an uneven population distribution many constituencies created by employing this principle would be too large in area to be served effectively by one representative. As well, many urban constituencies would be extremely small. Therefore the thesis concluded that this method of boundary determination was not suitable for British Columbia. Representation by area was not considered to be practical for many ridings would contain only a few hundred voters while others over one hundred thousand. Therefore, representation by community of interest appeared to be the best method of determining legislative constituency boundaries. In this system the under-populated areas of the province would have few electoral representatives. Using this method of deliniation each riding would contain persons affected by similar problems and sharing common interests. Community of Interest regions were determined by isolating all territory which is primarily dependent upon a central settlement. Throughout British Columbia large settlements exist which serve the economic and social needs of the surrounding urban and rural population. The thesis recommended I that such regions would make good provincial constituencies since the rural and urban areas would have equal interest in both local affairs and development. To determine the sphere of influence surrounding each large settlement an examination of services provided by various sized communities was undertaken in order to determine which services were offered only by the larger nucleations. As this method of analysis was not applicable in the Lower Mainland area a study of shopping patterns and community activities was used as a basis for boundary determination. Each of these areas of common interest became the basis for the recommended urban constituencies. As a potential political instrument the value of a new set of electoral boundaries lies in the result which its employment would achieve. Using the 1963 provincial election statistics in the proposed constituencies, the results would have changed the political party representation in the legislature very little. Therefore more equable districts could be adopted without a shift in political party strength.

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