British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Peace River North riding profile

A look at Peace River North, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

3 high-profile independents hope to take down the B.C. Liberals in the northeastern corner of the province

The riding includes all of northeastern B.C., but the vast majority of voters live in Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Hudson's Hope. (Elections B.C.)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Peace River North, one of eight ridings in northern B.C. — and one where vote-splitting could be a real issue, though in a very unique way.

Summary: Although it's the second largest riding in the province at 175,808 square kilometres, most people in Peace River North live in either Fort St. John, Hudson's Hope, Taylor or Fort Nelson, although there are small communities dispersed throughout the sprawling electoral district.

With its southern boundary including the Peace River, the riding also includes a number of people directly affected by construction of the Site C dam.  

Politics: The Peace River region often has more politically in common with Alberta than the rest of B.C. Since being created prior to the 1956 election, it has elected Social Credit candidates (1956 to 1991), the B.C. Reform Party (1996) and the B.C. Liberals (Since 1996).

The NDP has rarely exceeded 25 per cent of the vote, and in the last two elections the runner-up candidate was Arthur Hadland, an independent. 

Candidates: After two terms, Pat Pimm is not seeking re-election, and the Liberal candidate is Dan Davies, a Fort St. John councillor who defeated Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman for the party's nomination.  

The NDP candidate is Rob Dempsey, a secondary school teacher in Fort St. John.

There are also three relatively well-known independent candidates in this riding, making it particularly unique: Rob Fraser, the mayor of Taylor, Bob Fedderly, owner of a Fort St. John transportation company and Jeff Richert, a biologist and environmental consultant.

Where did Hadland do well? He did best in the areas to the north and east of Fort St. John and Charlie Lake, along with Hudson's Hope and the agricultural area of the north side of the Peace River being flooded for Site C.   

What about the Liberals? Particular areas of strength can shift around in this riding owing to economic volatility, but in 2013 they did extremely well in Fort Nelson, getting about 75 per cent of the vote.