If the commission in charge of drawing the federal electoral boundaries for the Tri-Cities is going to walk away from a public hearing Thursday with a key message, it will likely be that politicians and residents don't want Port Coquitlam to be split into three ridings.
About 20 people turned out to a Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting in Coquitlam to provide submissions to the committee on the proposed riding changes.
The majority of speakers were local politicians including MPs, MLAs and city councillors. They all spoke out against the plan to divide Port Coquitlam into three ridings.
PoCo Coun. Glenn Pollock argued the division of the city would hamper its ability to be represented effectively by its MP. He also suggested the proposed boundaries would favour the three other communities grouped with Port Coquitlam, as the three cities would make up the bulk of the riding. Pollock said the boundaries would leave PoCo residents without a voice in their respective ridings.
"It's not sensible for a community the size of Port Coquitlam to be split into three and represented by three different MPs," he said.
Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth and Coquitlam-New Westminster MP Fin Donnelly both urged the commission to reconsider slicing Port Coquitlam into three ridings.
However, Donnelly did propose a riding that would include parts of New Westminster, and the Fraser River portions of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.
Currently, there are two ridings in the Tri-Cities: New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port MoodyWestwood-Port Coquitlam.
Under the proposed boundary line changes, the region will be represented by three MPs - with new riding boundaries for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Port Moody-Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam-Pitt Meadows. New Westminster would be moved into the riding with Burnaby East.
Port Coquitlam could see the most changes. The entire city is currently included in the Port MoodyWestwood-Port Coquitlam riding. However, as part of the redistribution, it will be dissected into three distinct parts, sharing voting districts with Coquitlam, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
Coquitlam city councillor Neal Nicholson said he favoured a riding that included a part of Coquitlam and New Westminster, suggesting the two cities face challenges together. He argued a single MP representing both areas could help resolve issues between the two communities.
Gary Mauser, a Simon Fraser University professor, praised the commission's boundary proposals for recognizing the shared interest of all the Tri-Cities.
He maintained the three cities have many shared characteristics - a police department, chamber of commerce and city halls in close proximity.
"This is very important to recognize community interest," Mauser said, adding an MP's job is to represent the community's interest.