B.C. Votes 2017: Richmond South Centre riding profile
It's a changed riding with a new name, but the incumbent candidate is a familiar face to voters
In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Richmond South Centre, one of four ridings in Richmond — and where Linda Reid is now seeking her seventh term.
1. Linda Reid is the only MLA the former riding of Richmond East had ever known.
Want a sense of how much Richmond has grown in the last 30 years? Prior to 1991, there was only one riding for the entire city (though in 1986 it elected two members).
The city was then split into three ridings, and Reid, then a 31-year-old school teacher, was one of 17 Liberal candidates who upended the traditional Socred-NDP power structure with a win in the 1991 election.
Richmond has grown and changed rapidly since then, but through it all, Reid has been Richmond East's MLA, winning comfortably in every election since.
2. Richmond's ridings have changed — and Reid has moved to a very different type of electoral district.
By 2014 the three Richmond ridings had, on average, 24.5 per cent more voters than the average riding — so the B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission decided to give the city an extra seat.
But while the riding most similar to the former Richmond East is now Richmond-Queensborough, Reid has decided to run in Richmond South Centre, a small riding in the middle of the city.
3. Richmond South Centre is small. Really small.
Head south on No. 4 Road from Westminster Highway and after six blocks, turn right on Francis Road. Drive for a couple of kilometres until you take a right at No. 2 Road, another right after five blocks at Granville Avenue, take a left at No. 3 Road, and then another right at Westminster Highway until you hit No. 4 Road again.
There, you've circled the entire riding. At seven square kilometres, only Vancouver-False Creek is smaller.
4. It's also a riding where turnout could make a big difference.
Its small size doesn't mean campaigning is easy though. The riding is made up of parts of all three previous Richmond ridings, all of which had below-average turnout last election — and the former Richmond Centre, at 43.65 per cent, had the worst turnout in all of B.C.
Those figures, combined with the high number of people whose first language is something other than English, and the number of people who live in apartments, make outreach difficult. But those factors also mean there's a very large pool of voters who have never voted for the B.C. Liberals.
5. Who is Reid running against?
It can sometimes be difficult for the NDP to recruit strong candidates in Richmond, but city councillor Chak Au made the surprise decision to run for the party earlier this year.
The two-term councillor finished with the second highest amount of votes of the city's eight elected councillors in 2014.
The Green Party candidate is Greg Powell, a former Pembina Institute organizer and current minister of THE Castlegar United Church.
6. However, the B.C. Liberals should still be considered heavy favourites.
The NDP hasn't won a riding in Richmond since 1972, and it hasn't even secured one-third of the vote in any riding since 1991. Federally, it was unable to crack 15 per cent in either of the two ridings last election.
Unsurprisingly, it means that while Richmond South Centre is new, polling stations within its boundaries supported the B.C. Liberals by 53.2 per cent to the NDP's 23.6 per cent in the 2013 provincial election.
7. Where does the NDP do the best?
The NDP did win a few polling stations in mid-sized housing developments, geared towards seniors and low-income people, just south of Granville Avenue last election, but in each case it was by less than 10 votes.
8. What about the B.C. Liberals?
Okay, that's an exaggeration, but not by much. The party did best, however, in the homes around Sunnymade Crescent and the Garden City neighbourhood, racking up more than 70 per cent of the vote.
9. Another reason the Liberals will be favourites? Reid's stature.
While she's been hit with negative stories about spending habits this term, Reid is the legislative speaker and the longest-serving MLA in the house, giving her a name recognition virtually impossible for an NDP candidate to match.