B.C. Votes 2017: Langley riding profile
Mary Polak seeks a fourth term in the 'crossroads' riding of the Lower Mainland
In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Langley, one of nine ridings in the Fraser Valley region — and one that continues to have an urban and rural mix.
1. The riding of Langley begins a stretch of the province that has served as the cradle of B.C.'s dominant centre-right party for more than 60 years.
From the Surrey-Langley border to Hope, there have been 60 separate seats up for grabs on the southern side of the Fraser River during provincial elections since 1952, when the Social Credit first took power in B.C.
The NDP, and its predecessor, the CCF, have won none.
2. Mary Polak seeks a fourth term for the B.C. Liberals
A riding named for Langley was created prior to the 1966 election, and went to the Social Credit Party from then until 1991. At that point, it was split into two ridings: one mostly comprised of the City of Langley, and one mostly comprised of the Township of Langley (Langley East, formerly known as Fort Langley-Aldergrove).
Both ridings have always elected a Liberal candidate, and Polak has won each of her three elections since 2005 by at least 4,500 votes.
3. Demographically, Langley is about as average as you can get.
Aside from having a higher number of families with young children, Langley isn't near the top or bottom in B.C. for any demographic, economic or immigration statistic. The mix of farm and city land, longtime residents and new homeowners, keep it from having any one defining characteristic.
"It's at the crossroads between urban and rural," said Polak. "We have a lot of young families moving into the area, living in higher-density areas ... but we also have a significant agricultural population, that includes a really really large equestrian community."
She believes the mix creates a political culture more inclined to support her party.
"They are much more aware of the different areas of our province, and unlike some of the more urban ridings, I think people here have a pretty good understanding of the need to balance the different regional needs, and I think they see us doing that."
4. Redrawn boundaries will make the seat slightly less hospitable to the Liberals ...
The riding used to stretch from 196th Street out to 232nd Street, but because of population growth, it now stops at 216th Street. That eliminates most of the suburban Murrayville neighbourhood, which heavily supported Polak.
From north to south, in continues to span from the U.S. border to 72nd Avenue.
5. ... but Polak is unlikely to face as strong of a challenge from the right.
In 2013, the B.C. Conservative candidate was John Cummins, the longtime MP who had become leader of the provincial party. He received 11.9 per cent of the vote, sixth highest in B.C. — but Cummins resigned after the election, and the party has had nowhere the same level of attention since.
The NDP candidate is Gail Chaddock-Costello, the former president of the Langley Teachers Association and 2009 candidate in Fort Langley-Aldergrove against Rich Coleman.
The Green candidate is Elizabeth Walker, a local graphic designer.
6. Where does the NDP do well?
The half of the city north of the Nickomekl River and south of the Langley Bypass, where a number of polling stations centred around apartments and affordable housing complexes supported the party last election.
"It's a little bit more lower-income, a little bit-higher density, it's not as strongly centre-right," said Jordan Bateman, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation director who previously served as a councillor in the Township of Langley.
7. What about the Liberals?
Outside the city centre, the party tended to do equally well, getting between 45 and 65 per cent of the vote in both the suburban-based polling station and those surrounding farmland closer to the U.S. border.
With files from Richard Zussman