Changes approved

Minister Peter Fassbender confirms approval of proposed changes to Trustee Electoral Areas.

SD85’s Board of Education shared confirmation from Minister Peter Fassbender at this week’s meeting that its proposed changes to Trustee Electoral Areas had been approved.

The board proposed the changes after a lengthy and at times contentious consultation process, as the suggested changes divided opinion between those calling for voter parity and those espousing rural representation.

Presently the board of seven trustees has two representatives from Port Hardy, and one each from Port McNeill, Alert Bay, Port Alice, Western Zone and Eastern Zone. The approved changes will see newly defined areas and three representatives from the Port Hardy area, two from the Port McNeill area and two from the Alert Bay/ Port Alice region.

“In 2010 several members of the board of the day felt there was unequal representation across the district,” said chair Leightan Wishart, noting that the board had proceeded along the province’s trustee variation guidelines. “Although all areas of the district seem to be covered by a trustee,” he continued, “representation by population was not equal as per the guidelines. We realized redrawing the lines of representation would be a difficult task, but it was something that needed to be done.”

Alert Bay and Port Alice representatives were less than happy with the changes, and letters to the minister and school board were included in the agenda.

“We are disappointed to hear that our concerns have been disregarded in favour of the School Board’s proposal,” said the letter from Alert Bat CAO Heather Nelson-Smith. “It seems clear that the School Board and Ministry of Education prioritize population centres over geographic representation.”