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Taking Whistler out of Sea to Sky?

Proposal before Federal Boundaries Commission that would put Whistler in same riding as Fraser Canyon


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Whistler's Mayor is incensed over a last-ditch proposal that would remove the municipality from the Sea to Sky federal riding.

The move, if it goes ahead, effectively waters down Whistler's influence at the federal level, said Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, and she is not going to take that sitting down.

"I'm just outraged by this," she said.

Since learning of the proposal to move Whistler out of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country federal riding and into the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding via email this weekend, she has been preparing to do whatever she can to prevent the move, including lobbying MP John Weston to keep Whistler in the riding.

Weston, calling from Ottawa this week, said he wants to keep Whistler in the riding, but also supports the push to include Powell River. However, having both puts the riding above the population limits.

"There's certainly no easy way to divide the riding," he said.

Moving Whistler, the very community that defines Sea to Sky Country out of that federal riding and into one in which Whistler has no connection, save a remote geographical link on its westernmost edge is ludicrous, said Wilhelm-Morden.

"We have no similarities with those communities (Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon) so... in my opinion, we would be effectively disenfranchised from the federal scene if Whistler was put into that riding," said the mayor.

She uses the recent provincial election to illustrate her point — an election where the mayor of the smallest town in the riding, Mayor Jordan Sturdy of Pemberton, won because of the closeness and connectedness of the Sea to Sky corridor.

Just imagine a Whistler or Pemberton representative trying to run in Matsqui as the federal MP she said.

"To bring in Powell River at the expense of Whistler moving to Matsqui is just ridiculous," said Wilhelm-Morden.

For his part, Sturdy shares Wilhelm-Morden's concerns and in fact made a presentation to the Federal Boundaries Commission last year with a pitch to put Pemberton back in the Sea to Sky riding.

"Everything that we do, everything we're associated with and everything that we participate in is oriented along Highway 99 to the south," said Sturdy.

"I believe that the commission understood exactly what we were talking about."

That's why in the commission's report the new West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding included Pemberton and removed Powell River.

"I thought it was all going to work out nicely," said Sturdy.

This new proposal, he added, doesn't reflect reality.

At the heart of this new proposal, put forward at the 11th hour by a handful of Members of Parliament, is a push to keep Powell River in the Sunshine Coast riding, creating a domino effect, which begins on Vancouver Island and ends in the Lower Mainland, affecting five proposed ridings.