Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen announced today that he would stand down on the renaming of the riding. At least for now.
“After a great deal of thought and out of respect for our great region, I’ve decided to stand down on the renaming of the riding,” said Cullen.
“Frankly, I hit send too quickly and missed the mark on properly involving constituents in this decision,” he continued. “But, more importantly, a lot of people also told us they didn’t feel a part of the process, they didn’t have the opportunity to really think about options and to be heard.”
“I’ve always believed the best decisions are based on good consultation and people told me that my process this time just didn’t meet that high standard,” he added.
Cullen’s latest poll, which ended Dec. 5, shows a will for change, with 64 per cent of 662 respondents supporting a name that more accurately reflects the broad expanse of people and geography in the riding.
According to an online poll conducted by Lakes District News, however, the majority of respondents (64 per cent of 58 respondents) said the riding should keep its current name. Nineteen per cent of respondents said the riding’s name should be the originally suggested British Columbia Northwest; 12 per cent said they like the proposed Skeena-Pacific Northwest; and five per cent said the name should be something else.
Cullen says that an Elections Canada review of all riding names and boundaries after the October 2019 federal election will provide a timely opportunity for Skeena-Bulkley Valley residents to consider what they’d like to call their northwest riding.
“While there appears to be a strong willingness to consider a more inclusive name for our beautiful home, I will wait until Elections Canada initiates its 10-year review of all ridings that will follow the next election,” said Cullen. “I look forward to continuing this conversation over the next two years.”
Cullen acknowledged a name change would carry “modest costs” to update stationary. He also noted his offices are about to replace worn billboards and signage that have seen 14 years of use.
According to Cullen, many constituents are concerned that the riding’s current name reflects less than 30 per cent of the people and geography of the 330,000-square km riding.
What is now Skeena-Bulkley Valley began as the riding of New Westminster when B.C. became the sixth province to join Confederation in 1871. In the 1896 election, the riding became part of Burrard, Comox-Atlin in 1904, Skeena in 1917, and finally Skeena-Bulkley Valley in 2003.