Officials unhappy with proposed boundary changes to Fredericton’s provincial ridings

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Changes recommended for Fredericton provincial ridings
WATCH: An early look at a possible restructuring of Fredericton’s provincial ridings is receiving little applause. The commission responsible for redrawing the electoral map has proposed splitting the city’s core in two. As Robert Lothian reports, the changes also fail to separate rural and urban communities – Dec 13, 2022

Early changes to the provincial electoral districts in Fredericton have received little applause from officials in the region.

On Monday, the Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission released a preliminary report on changes to all 49 New Brunswick ridings that would take effect ahead of the next general election.

In Fredericton, those changes include the addition of one elected representative within the city limits and the division of one riding.

“We just really feel particularly as Fredericton is growing a little bit, we require more representation of MLAs whose pure interest is within the Fredericton boundaries,” Kate Rogers, the Mayor of Fredericton, said in an interview Tuesday.

In September, the city penned a letter to the commission requesting four ridings be created that are wholly contained within the 2023 boundaries of the City of Fredericton.

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Additionally, the city asked that Fredericton’s ridings be consistent with the makeup of those established in Saint John and Moncton, and that urban and rural communities not be lumped into the same ridings.

Instead, the ridings, especially Fredericton North, continue to lack a divide between rural and urban communities.

“When we look at Brookside (Drive) for instance, on the northside, they share an MLA with someone who’s very far removed from them, who would have very different concerns from someone living in an urban riding,” Rogers remarked.

She said their current representation in the legislatures consists of officials who must have a split focus on urban and rural ridings.

The release of the proposed changes has also drawn criticism from Green Party Leader David Coon, whose Fredericton South riding could be split in two.

Proposed changes would see the current Fredericton South riding split in two. The new ridings would be named Fredericton South-Silverwood and Fredericton Lincoln. Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission

The proposed Fredericton South-Silverwood and Fredericton Lincoln ridings would be divided by Regent Street, with the latter extending into the Town of Oromocto.

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“It doesn’t make any sense to split the downtown and then try and make up the difference in the number of voters by pulling a ward out of the town of Oromocto,” Coon said.

The commission must create districts that do not deviate from the electoral quotient by more than 15 per cent. The quotient for the report was 11,667, which means districts must fall between 9,917 and 13,417 electors.

In past, Coon said, the commission has worked under the principle of maintaining communities and a city’s downtown core.

“For an inexplicable reason, this boundary commission, those commissioners, have gone back to the past and are proposing to divide Fredericton out the way it used to be.”

When asked about how the changes would impact where he will run in the next general election, Coon joked his only choice is to split himself in two.

“If this goes forward as proposed, it is going to be very difficult to make a choice,” he said, adding “Right now I feel like I need to divide myself in two to continue providing the representation I have been providing over the last three elections to the people of Fredericton South.”

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Speaking with reporters on Monday, commission co-chairs Roger Clinch and Camille Thériault refused to speak on proposed modifications in each individual riding, saying they will let people digest the report.

Both Coon and Rogers stated they plan to prepare responses ahead of the eight public hearings scheduled for January.

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Changes to New Brunswick labour legislation receiving criticism

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