B.C. Votes 2017: Langford-Juan de Fuca riding profile
NDP leader John Horgan seeks re-election in this riding made up of diverse municipalities
In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Langford-Juan de Fuca, one of 15 ridings on Vancouver Island — and one where the NDP candidate isn't likely to be seen much on the campaign trail.
1. A visit to John Horgan's home brings with it heavy symbolism.
For 25 years, the NDP leader has lived on a quiet cul de sac of Langford against a large, wooded hill, the type of working-class neighbourhood you can find on the outskirts of dozens of communities in B.C.
At the top of the hill there's a clearing, where Horgan can survey his riding, and see how Langford has become the fastest growing municipality in the province over the last decade.
"You can see the transformation. All of this is new since I lived here," he says, pointing to hundreds of new homes in Braemar Heights and along Happy Valley Road. "All of that was mountainside when I moved here."
Horgan doesn't begrudge the rapid growth — "that's what the regional population plan predicted, and that's what people want to see" — but from the top of the hill, he points literally and figuratively to Happy Valley Elementary as an example of what he'd like to change.
It was rebuilt after a 2004 fire, but he charges that the provincial government didn't allow it to be large enough to accommodate the expected population increase.
"They built a school, and it's full. Portables on every square inch, and more coming," he said.
2. The population growth has resulted in a shrinking of the riding's boundaries.
When Horgan moved to Langford to work as a staffer for the NDP government in the 1990s, the riding was known as Malahat-Juan De Fuca, and stretched as high up as Duncan.
Today, the riding only goes halfway up the Malahat, to just south of the Shawinigan Lake turnoff, and in the redistribution after the 2013 election lost Metchosin to the neighbouring Esquimalt riding.
Despite that, it's still a riding with a mix of fast-growing municipalities in Langford and Sooke, and sparsely populated regions along the Juan De Fuca trail.
"It's representative of the culture," said Horgan. "The historic Goldstream station is my constituency … there's the historic mining town of Leechtown, the areas around Jordan River, but I'm excited about the transformation here into the new economy, because it's such a spectacular place to live."
3. Party leaders do lose their seats in B.C. from time to time — but Horgan's position seems secure.
Christy Clark's loss in 2013 in Vancouver-Point Grey was the fifth time in the last 70 years where a premier or leader of the opposition lost their seat in a B.C. election, but Horgan seems likely to avoid that fate in May, absent a complete collapse of NDP support.
Like much of Vancouver Island, the region shifted from the Social Credit Party to the NDP in the second half of the 20th century (the party currently holds 13 of the Islands' 15 seats), and has elected NDP MLAs in eight of the last nine elections, and Horgan has won by over 4,500 votes the last two elections.
4. Horgan points to the E&N rail line as an example where a Vancouver Island premier will produce results.
Despite public ownership, it's been over six years since the 234-kilometre line from Victoria to Courtenay has seen any trains, and there's plenty of discussion over whether the route should be used to alleviate congestion on the infamous "Colwood Crawl," the stretch of Highway 1 linking Victoria to the western communities.
- Province to review commuter rail options for Victoria area
- Train-less rail line boosts cycling trail network in Greater Victoria
- No Vancouver Island railway deal yet, says VIA Rail
"The premier and her have announced now another study," said Horgan, referencing last month's announcement.
"Come on, let's go, let's get this thing done. It's an unused transportation corridor we can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and get more people out of cars and into public transit, and yet the government has steadfastly refused to do anything. Things like that will move quickly, and I think the public will be thankful for that."
5. Who is running against Horgan?
The B.C. Liberal candidate is Cathy Noel, race director for both the Victoria Marathon and the Victoria Goddess Run, and organizer of charity events for non-profits across the Island. The Green Party candidate is Brendan Ralfs, a duty manager with Emergency Management B.C.
6. Where does the NDP do well?
The NDP vote isn't concentrated in any one area, but the party does best in the remote communities between Sooke and Port Renfrew, along with the older city centre of Langford along Goldstream and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
7. What about the Liberals?
It wins most of the polling stations in the newer, higher-income suburbs in north Langford.
8. Because of B.C.'s electoral system, voters won't see Horgan against Christy Clark on the same ballot — but he's happy to draw comparisons in where they're running.
"The liability for the premier is she represents everyone and no one at the same time," he says of the MLA for Kelowna West.
"My neighbours are why I do this. The people in my constituency are the people that motivate me to do what I do. Having roots and a place are very important."
"People are excited. They're looking forward to having a premier from Langford."