Recent History – 1999
March 15, 1999, By Ann Harvey, Alaska Highway News
Fort St. John will tell the Electoral Boundaries commission today that its numbers are wrong and there is no good reason to redraw Peace ridings.
Councillor Peter Vandergugten is representing the city at hearings Monday, March 15, when the three-member committee led by chairman Josiah Woods will be in Fort St. John. The commission has proposed moving Mackenzie out of the South Peace electoral district and linking it with Prince George.
It has then addressed the reduced population of the South Peace riding by suggesting moving the border to just south of Fort St. John. That would put both Taylor and the Fort St. John Airport in the South Peace. Vandergugten said the city has joined with other area interests who all have the same wish to avoid a change in the boundary.
The commission was appointed under the Elections Act which requires that after every second election an independent commission review and make proposals if changes in the electoral district seem necessary. The act requires that an average of the population be taken and electoral districts be no more than 25 per cent more or less.
Both Peace districts had too few people for the current average of 49,660, being minus 30.1 per cent in the south and minus 32.3 per cent in the north. The commission recommended taking Mackenzie out at that community’s request because it has ties with Prince George. Then it proposed making up the lost population in the South Peace by taking a southern portion of the North Peace.
That’s where the city has found a flaw in its recommended solution, the commission said taking away Mackenzie resulted in a 12,404 drop in population. This is an error which city representatives say the commission agrees was wrong, instead the drop is 6,944.
The city then argues that leaving the boundary where it is would actually result in the south having a 40 per cent deviation. The commission could accept this on the grounds that taking the airport and Taylor out of the North Peace interfere with natural links. There are precedents elsewhere in Canada for deviations as great as 50 per cent. Vandergugten said the North Peace Airport Society is a North Peace initiative. The airport belongs with Fort St. John and Taylor. And no matter what shift in boundaries occurs Taylor regards itself as related to Fort St. John.