Tuesday November 22, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
Editorial commentary by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
New provincial electoral boundaries have been proposed, which if approved will take effect for the next BC provincial election.
The next election is presently set for October 19, 2024.
Out here on the west shore, the new riding composition would create a significant shift for the political culture. Langford’s fast-paced growth has produced an urban-style riding, parting ways from the rural Sooke component.
The entirely rural Metchosin — which used to be in the previous Juan de Fuca riding (before that riding became Langford-Juan de Fuca for the last two elections) is back in the rural side of things with Sooke and Juan de Fuca and Malahat.
Decoupling Langford and Sooke:
The proposed new electoral boundaries will quietly but powerfully decouple Sooke from Langford for the 2024 election, and possibly the election after that. While many people commute between the two communities (loosely considered to both be part of the west shore), Sooke steadfastly holds onto its rural character while Langford has zoomed into the future with a big-city vision.
The fact that the current MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca (former Premier John Horgan) could hold the disparate Sooke and Langford together in one bundle of voting power is a testament to his political skill. But likely any future MLA candidate for that commuity-combo would not be ably bridge that gap for significant success.
The proposed new Juan de Fuca-Malahat riding will be essentially rural, encompassing a vast geographical area that includes Sooke, East Sooke, Metchosin, Otter Point west to Port Renfrew, and Malahat. Anyone who runs as an MLA candidate for that footprint will certainly have a much different messaging than anyone running in the robust proposed Langford-Highlands.
The populations of the two proposed ridings are pretty similar: Langford-Highlands riding would have a population of 49,114 while Juan de Fuca-Malahat would have 44,931. But similarities in the needs and desires of the populations in the two proposed areas are vastly different.
Strategically speaking, the separation of Sooke from Langford splits the Horgan support camp in two.
Langford in the lead:
Langford has been set on a course of urban growth including high-density neighbourhoods and a complex array of amenities, all of which requires a significant investment in both physical and social infrastructure.
Whereas Sooke has for 15 years trying to nudge its way into the Greater Victoria fold as a bustling town, it remains geographically removed (and still dependent on Highway 14 for in/out access) and is socioculturally distinct if not unique.
The new boundary setup will, in a way, set Sooke up for leadership on the west side of the island, now that it wouldn’t be competing with Langford for the limelight.
Metchosin back with Sooke:
The new Esquimalt-Colwood riding would again see Metchosin shaved off (presently the riding is Esquimalt-Metchosin), similarly bundling urban areas together.
Colwood is fast-growing while Esquimalt is at the infill stage, but the current MLA (Mitzi Dean) has been successfully at combining the two under her wing.
The population of the proposed new Esquimalt-Colwood riding is 58,343.
School district footprint:
If there is a by-election for School District 62 in 2024, the new BC electoral boundaries would divide up the four areas of the SD62 Belmont Zone (Colwood, Highlands, Langford and Metchosin) across three new ridings:
- Colwood: will be in the new Esquimalt-Colwood riding
- Langford: will be in the new Langford-Highlands riding
- Highlands: will be in the new Langford-Highlands riding
- Metchosin: will be in the new Juan de Fuca –Malahat riding
Politically speaking, that would lean board table voting weight in favour of the three Milne’s Landing Zone trustees (elected in the Sooke and Juan de Fuca areas) compared to the four SD62 trustees of the Belmont Zone.
Most of the 27 SD62 schools are in Langford, and Colwood, with five schools in Sooke.
Public comments due by 11:59 pm on Nov 22:
Public hearings have been held across the province in recent months.
Anyone who still has comments on the BC Electoral Boundary Commission recommendations may submit those up to 11:59 pm online or by email. The email address is email@example.com .
The new Langford area boundary was briefly mentioned at the City of Langford Special Council Meeting last night, November 21, without any decision by the new Council as to impacts the change might have.
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is a professional news portal at islandsocialtrends.ca . Fully online since mid-2020, Island Social Trends emerged from previous print publications in the west shore: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).
Since 2008, journalist and editor Mary P Brooke has taken a socioeconomic lens to the news of the west shore and south Vancouver Island region, including BC and national news impacts. [See Island Social Trends Politics Archive].
Mary P Brooke has also focused on news of School District 62 at the board level since 2014 [see Island Social Trends Education archive].