I'm sorry, Madam Chair, but was Ms. Fry not next? No. I am happy to speak.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of PROC, for allowing me to have this opportunity.
I wish I didn't have to be here. I'm here largely because the last version of the map the commission put forward looked nothing like the initial proposal, and I share many of the same concerns as Mr. Davies and Mr. Miao. No one in the three communities that have been affected by these material changes had the chance to be here, so I'm here on their behalf and I want to articulate what those three communities are.
First is the Punjabi Market and the historic organizations and entities of the South Asian community. My colleague, Mr. Sajjan, the member for Vancouver South, will speak to those later this week, but those historic institutions have always been together in one electoral district, and now it is proposed that they be separate.
Second, as you heard from Mr. Miao, Marpole, one of Vancouver's oldest neighbourhoods, a historic neighbourhood adjacent to and integrated with the Oakridge community right next door to such an extent that there are organizations there such as the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre and Marpole Oakridge Family Place, is being proposed to be severed completely from Vancouver and basically joined to the Richmond riding. Marpole is connected to Vancouver. It's where the schools are. It provides the policing for these services and schools, and, as you heard from Mr. Davies, two blocks of east Vancouver are being placed predominantly in a west-side riding.
We let our constituents know on social media. Within 24 hours we had this stack of letters, emails and phone calls. Why? Why did they object? It was because the commission chose to sever Marpole—as I said, one of Vancouver's oldest communities, one that is connected physically to the city of Vancouver—and join it to the city of Richmond, which is separated from Vancouver by the Fraser River, the very same river that the commission noted should serve as the natural boundary between the ridings of Richmond and Delta.
It is our view that the same logic should apply when we're talking about the separation of Vancouver and Richmond. Anyone who has been to Vancouver, who has been to the airport, anyone who knows Vancouver knows that getting from Marpole to Richmond is not easy. With bridges, buses, walking, whatever, it is not actually easy, despite the exhortations to the contrary.
We've heard from so many residents. We've heard from MLAs. We've heard from city councillors, mayors, and members of Parliament. You've heard my colleagues here and others, all of whom are strongly opposed to this decision by the commission. Most important, we've heard from everyday citizens, and I will share with you some of their words.
The Commission must not know of Marpole's deep historic cultural, political and economic ties to the City of Vancouver. Marpole is not and has never been part of Richmond.
I live in Marpole. I was shocked to hear the boundary is what it is. In my opinion, Marpole has nothing to do with Richmond. It is physically separated. It makes it hard for us.
How can Marpole be part of Richmond? We are part of Vancouver.
I strongly resent the removal of our area, and I want you to convey our opinion in the strongest terms. These people don't know Vancouver.
As a resident of Marpole for 60 years, I am outraged at this [proposal]. Whoever has proposed this, whatever group, should be fired immediately! They don't understand Vancouver. This is our heritage and it cannot be handled in this offhand manner as if we citizens don't count. We were given no chance to voice our concerns.
These are just a few of the over 150 letters we got in 24 hours. Many of those have been attached to the submission I made.
What we're dealing with is the fact that had there been a chance to speak to this, you would have had thousands of people submitting their objections and speaking out. They didn't have that chance.
The other thing to note is that the residents of Marpole have an average income of approximately $30,000 less per year than do those in the rest of the city of Vancouver. Those are the residents who access their MPs. Those are the ones who come to us for their services. To say to them now, “You must go to Richmond to access these services, and somebody will have to advocate for you with the City of Vancouver,” is unfair to them and ignores fundamentally the premise of why we do this.
We do this so that votes matter, so that voters' voices count. All we are doing is disenfranchising people by putting them in a riding with which they have very limited affinity and almost no relationship.
My request to PROC is that they take into account what the report has said about other ridings: that the Fraser River should serve as the natural boundary between Delta and Richmond. We believe that same logic should apply between Vancouver and Richmond, and I agree wholeheartedly with what Mr. Davies has said with respect to the line between east and west being Ontario Street. That is how the City of Vancouver sees it. That is how the electoral boundaries commission should see it.