Victoria Report: Local representation could be lost

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart says local connections could be lost with switch to PR

By Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart

I recently completed my latest constituency tour, a three-day road trip that took me to several communities in our large riding of Fraser-Nicola, including Ashcroft.

We discussed issues including downtown revitalizations, cell service, transportation, and housing, but the biggest issue raised by constituents was the electoral reform referendum.

Many of them reported that they didn’t feel engaged or informed, and they had a lot of questions about what the ballot and the three proportional representation (PR) options on it would look like.

Constituents are also concerned about the potential loss of local representation if B.C. does move to a system of PR. Some of them have told me they’re worried about ridings getting larger, with potentially more than one MLA. They want to see their representatives “elected” rather than “selected” from a party list. They want an MLA who knows the area and understands local issues.

Our entire community is thrilled with the recent developments at Ashcroft Terminal, our inland port. For years, the team there has been working to secure new deals and grants so it can continue to grow, provide more services, create jobs, and have an even bigger economic impact.

As MLA, I’ve been proud to help advocate for them along the way. I live in Ashcroft, so I know what a game-changer these major developments are going to be: not only for the company, but for our community and region.

So when I think about the very real possibility that an important contributor like Ashcroft Terminal could lose that local connection with the representative they rely on, it pains me.

It’s important that we fully understand what a change to proportional representation will mean to our community. But I fear the government just isn’t listening, as it rushes through this referendum process.

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