05/13/2013 08:01 EDT | Updated 07/13/2013 05:12 EDT

10 ridings to watch in B.C.'s provincial election

Check out the 10 ridings to watch as British Columbians go to the polls in the province's 40th general election.

1. Boundary-Similkameen

This riding is currently held by Independent John Slater, who was elected as a Liberal. But he left the party and is not seeking re-election. Independent candidate Mischa Popoff has a relatively high profile in the area after being booted from the B.C. Conservatives because of excerpts from some of his local newspaper columns. The Liberals are running former Oliver mayor Linda Larson, while NDP candidate Sam Hancheroff is a former teacher.

2. Comox Valley

This Vancouver Island swing riding has been held by the Liberals since 2001— when the party won the biggest landslide in B.C. history, taking 77 of 79 seats. Prior to that, the riding was held by NDP MLAs when that party ruled the province. Incumbent Don McRae is seeking re-election, going up against the NDP’s Kassandra Dycke.

3. Kamloops-North Thompson

The city of Kamloops has sent government MLAs to Victoria in almost every election since 1903, earning it a reputation as a bellwether riding. The only exception was 1996 when Liberal Claude Richmond won Kamloops-North Thompson after the riding was split in two. In 2009 Liberal incumbent and current Environment Minister Terry Lake took Kamloops-North Thompson by just 510 votes. NDP candidate Kathy Kendall, a lawyer who has lived in Kamloops since 1985, is well-known in the community.

4. Oak Bay-Gordon Head

This riding is perhaps the Green Party of B.C.’s best chance of electing an MLA with candidate Andrew Weaver, a well-known climate scientist who has lived in the community his entire life. He faces the Liberal Party’s Ida Chong, who has held the riding since 1996 but won by just 561 votes in 2009.

5. Parksville-Qualicum

This riding has no incumbent candidate running, and is shaping up to be a strong battle for the Liberals and Conservatives. Liberal candidate Michelle Stilwell is a gold-medal Paralympian, while Conservative David Coupland is well-known local doctor. The two candidates could split the vote on the right, paving the way for New Democrat Barry Avis, a former city councillor.

6. Peace River North

Liberal incumbent Pat Pimm beat Independent Arthur Hadland by just over 1,000 votes in 2009. Hadland has essentially spent the past four years on the ground campaigning in the riding, billing himself as a true representative of the region. He is vocal in his opposition to the Site C project — a dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River, which is a contentious local issue.

7. Prince George-Mackenzie

This long-time Liberal riding was most recently held by Pat Bell, who is not seeking re-election. Both the Liberals and NDP are running strong local candidates in this election — Liberal Mike Morris is a former RCMP superintendent, while NDP candidate Bobby Deepak is a well-known lawyer.

8. Vancouver-Fairview

Incumbent candidate Liberal Margaret MacDiarmid faces a tough race in this riding against the NDP’s George Heyman, a well-known environmental and labour activist who was the head of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and worked for the Sierra Club of B.C. While this riding was most recently held by the Liberals, over the years it’s swung back and forth between the Liberals and NDP.

9. Vancouver-Point Grey

B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark faces a tough fight in retaining her own seat in Vancouver-Point Grey. She is once again up against NDP candidate David Eby, who lost to Clark by just 564 votes in a 2011 byelection. While Clark has spent most of her time this election campaign seeking votes in the rest of the province, Eby has spent his time campaigning on the ground in Vancouver-Point Grey.

10. Vernon-Monashee

The B.C. Liberals have held this riding since 1996, with incumbent Eric Foster taking hold of the seat in 2009. But B.C. Conservative candidate Scott Anderson also has a relatively high profile in the area. There’s a possibility the Conservatives could take this seat — or split the vote on the right, giving the seat to New Democrat candidate Mark Olsen.