What if BC’s 2017 election had been done under SNTV? I’ve been wondering the same thing, and have started re-running the numbers to see how proportional it might be. But first, we need new ridings.
For this exercise, I chose to simply amalgamate the current ridings in ways that seemed sensible based on my understanding of the current geographical and cultural connections. I’ve travelled the province extensively over the years, but I don’t know it all and would love some on-the-ground feedback from people.
Now right off the bat, it has to be said that no riding is perfect. They’re certainly not perfect now under first-past-the-post (FPTP), as people in Courtenay-Comox were concerned about a chunk that was removed from that riding and moved to something that they felt was less geographically and culturally appropriate, as were people in New Westminster who saw a part that had traditionally been part of their riding riding. Under our current FPTP ridings the rural municipality of Metchosin is now part of the largely urban riding of Esquimalt, except for that part that is still connected to a suburban chunk of Langford.
So, yeah, coming up with any kind of riding is a series of ugly compromises. That’s true under FPTP, would be true under MMP, and would be true under STV. So that’s pretty much just a law of nature and will also be true under SNTV.
So without further ado, here’s what I came up with (alphabetically by the name of the first riding added into each SNTV riding):
To me this made sense geographically and culturally as this is the heart of the south side of the Fraser Valley
Geographically this seemed to work to me. Thoughts, anyone?
It made sense to put Burnaby together, and this seemed the most logical place to add New Westminster too.
Fun fact, there used to be a multi-member riding (under the “at-large” system) called “Cariboo” in BC’s past.
There seemed to be both a geographic connection and a history (if not a present) of some similar voting patterns between these ridings.
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
I debated where to put Maple Ridge, as there were other possible geographic alignments, but this seemed to make the most cultural sense to me after looking at past voting patterns. I’d love feedback from locals, though.
Mid Island-Pacific Rim
Powell River-Sunshine Coast
These ridings are a natural pairing, with the arguable exception of Powell River-Sunshine Coast. At the federal level it has bounced around between being part of a Vancouver Island riding, or part of a mainland riding, as ridings were realigned over the years. The area is only accessible by boat or plane, and the largest population centre in the area (Powell River) is more readily accessible from Vancouver Island than from the Mainland. And my North/West Van grouping of ridings was already at four, so grouping Powell River-Sunshine Coast with the North Island ridings put them at four ridings as well. But I could be easily talked into moving it.
A no-brainer here, IMO. While Parksville-Qualicum has a history of voting differently than Nanaimo, they’re geographically tightly-knit. And because SNTV add proportionality, an area that tends to vote differently than the rest of a riding will usually be successful at electing a contrarian candidate anyway. Cowichan Valley was a tougher call, As it’s sandwiched between Nanaimo and Greater Victoria, and has geographic and cultural connections with each. Many people living there have moved there from Greater Victoria (such as people retiring there), or travel daily from there to Victoria for work, so a strong argument to group it with Greater Victoria could have been made. An equally strong argument to group it with Nanaimo can be made. I ultimately went with grouping it with Nanaimo in part because the largest population centre (Duncan) is a titch closer to Nanaimo, and because Greater Victoria already has 7 ridings to boosting this one up to four made more sense than increasing Greater Victoria to 8.
This one is probably going to be the most controversial. I considered putting Langley into the Abbotsford-Chilliwack riding, but it seems politically distinct from BC’s “Bible Belt”. I also considered leaving the South Surrey riding in with the rest of the Surrey ridings, but it seemed to have a lower population density than the rest of Surrey.
An alternate approach would be to put Langley in with the other Fraser Valley ridings, to put all 9 Surrey ridings together, and turn Delta into a two-seat riding. That would make the result in Delta less proportional, but make the result in the Fraser Valley and Surrey more proportional.
Langford-Juan de Fuca
Oak Bay-Gordon Head
Saanich North and the Islands
This one is a no-brainer, IMO. Greater Victoria is small and highly integrated area. Some may argue for breaking it into North and South, or into East and West, and I’m open to those kinds of arguments, but I decided to keep it all together to increase the proportionality.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time in this area (I had an Uncle who used to live in Barriere BC). The communities of the Fraser-Nicola (Merritt, Cache Creek, etc.) seem to share a stronger kinship with Kamloops than other major centres in the interior, from what I can tell, so I grouped them this way.
Keeping Kelowna together seems sensible, and grouping Penticton with them is frankly just a guess. Anyone with local knowledge want to comment on that?
With #13 and #14, I looked at the lay of the land, and my memories of bicyle touring and other trips through the area, and put these together this way. I’m open to other alignments however.
West Vancouver-Sea to Sky
This seems philosophically similar to how Elections Canada has done federal ridings in this area, over the years, so I went with this arrangement.
Peace River North
Peace River South
The names say it all, I doubt either of these ridings would be better suited in any other pairing.
Keeping the two Prince George ridings together made sense, and I didn’t see any obvious other ridings that I would want to group with them.
Richmond North Centre
Richmond South Centre
I considered putting the Delta ridings in with Richmond, but in the end decided that Richmond had become politically and socially extremely distinct from Delta in recent decades so decided to keep Richmond as one unit.
Aside from the southern chunks of Surrey that I merged with Delta and Langley, this is very similar to the “riding” that Surrey residents elect city councillors from.
For #20 and #21, I chose to go with property values to help break down Vancouver between east and west. As much as I would have loved an 11 member riding for its high degree of proportionality, I understand there are significant political divisions between east and west in Vancouver, and some people might find the ballot longer than desirable for an 11 member riding. A pair of ridings, one electing 6 and the other electing 5, offer enough proportionality and more appealing logistics in some ways, so I went with that.