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Pemberton back in riding

MP John Weston confirms he intends to seek re-election in re-aligned federal riding

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Pemberton got its wish as the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission has recommended the community be included in the Sea to Sky electoral district when the next federal election is called.

Pemberton is back in familiar federal territory following the release of a new electoral boundary map for B.C.

After a decade in a riding known as Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, the village and the surrounding areas have been brought back into the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky federal constituency.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of BC released its final recommendations last week after a year of reviews and discussions. The three-person panel has shuffled the boundaries to pull Pemberton back into what many consider is its natural geographic and socio-economic place while Powell River has been shuffled out of the riding.

B.C. will now have 42 federal ridings, up from 36.

West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky MP John Weston said it's going to be a good change for Pemberton. He noted that the current population of the riding is one of the largest in the province and with the boundary change the number of voters in the riding will drop.

"Clearly, people wanted it," said Weston. "What I saw was that many different people were associated with our area and wanted to be in the riding and I think that's a tribute to the place and the people here. It's really a spectacular riding and it's not a big surprise that whether you were with Powell River or Pemberton you wanted to remain with it."

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, who is doing double-duty as the MLA for the region after being elected to provincial office in May, said he was very pleased to see the recommendations.

Sturdy said he was happy that the three members of the panel reviewing the issue listened to the concerns of the people of Pemberton.

Speaking from his home in Pemberton, Sturdy said his area has very little in common with the other communities in the Fraser Valley riding and the geographic, social and economic connection to the Sea to Sky corridor is much stronger.

"It really makes more sense in so many regards," said Sturdy. "If you look at something like the Howe Sound Community Forum that consists of the Sunshine Coast, West Vancouver, Howe Sound and up to Pemberton. These are logical geographic areas."

Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden also said it was sensible to bring Pemberton back.

"It didn't make a lot of sense to me nor to a whole lot of other people. All of Pemberton's interests really lie with the Sea to Sky corridor to the south," said Wilhelm-Morden. "It just made so much sense that they come back and rejoin us."

Weston said the recommendations from the review panel would be in place for the next federal election, which is expected in 2015.

The commission had a public meeting last September in Squamish. Sturdy was there, along with Susie Gimse, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District representative in Area C and Pemberton resident Maureen Douglas. All three asked Pemberton to be put it back in the Sea to Sky riding.

When Whistler council learned in June there was talk of moving Whistler out of the Sea to Sky riding and into a Fraser Valley with Pemberton, council wrote a letter to the commission opposing the change.

The Governor in Council is expected to proclaim the final report from the commission in September.

The Canada Gazette will publish the riding descriptions and maps to officially mark the change.

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