| Posted: Saturday, Jul 07, 2012 06:00 am
St. Albert’s seat in the House of Commons will have a little more of the city and a little less of Edmonton under proposed redistricting announced this week.
The current riding, Edmonton-St. Albert would be rechristened St. Albert-Edmonton under the proposal released this week from Alberta’s electoral boundaries commission.
When Elections Canada last compiled the numbers in 2006, the riding had more than 126,000 people, making it among the biggest ridings in the country. More recent census results for Edmonton and St. Albert indicate it has almost certainly risen. MPs voted last fall to add seats to the House of Commons for Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario that were designed to bring larger ridings closer to the average.
“The first and primary thing we looked at was trying to achieve parity, so we have an equal number of electors in each electoral district,” said Donna Wilson, one of the boundary commissioners who helped draft the proposal released this week.
Across the capital region, many ridings that had been mixtures of Edmonton and nearby suburban communities are proposed to become solely Edmonton ridings.
Local MP Brent Rathgeber said he was concerned the commission might pull Edmonton and St. Albert apart, but he has been pleasantly surprised with the change.
“I was fully anticipating that Edmonton and St. Albert would be pulled apart similar to what happened in Edmonton-Spruce Grove and Edmonton-Leduc, so I was pleasantly surprised.”
Wilson said the proposed riding is of the right size, with about 105,000 potential residents.
“It seemed to be a good size and in our view a viable community of interests.”
The current riding includes all of St. Albert, plus a sizeable portion of Edmonton essentially encompassing all of the area west of 97 Street and north of Yellowhead Trail.
In the proposed change St. Albert will remain fully in the riding, but in Edmonton an L-shaped section, bordered roughly by the Yellowhead, Castledowns Road, 137 Avenue and 97 Street will be pulled out.
While some of his colleagues may now be forced to decide which riding they would contest in future, Rathgeber said he would run in St. Albert-Edmonton.
“There is no decision to be made,” he said. “It has been minor changes. When you have minor changes to a riding, obviously that makes it much easier to make a decision.”
He said most of his volunteers and party board members will still remain in his riding. He also said with more St. Albertans than Edmontonians in the new riding it only makes sense to change the name
He said the loss of some 30,000 constituents could ease some of the pressure on his office, but he doesn’t expect a major drop in the amount of work.
“We will notice it but it will be a very, very small change.”
Mayor Nolan Crouse said when St. Albert was asked for input on the changes the city only asked that the new riding have as much of the city as possible.
“Our input is the more St. Albert we can have, the better.”
Based on this proposal, the city got essentially what it wanted, he added.
“We would have to be pleased. Not wanting to be overly selfish about it, but we do want to maintain our own autonomy.”
The commission will hold public consultations on its proposed map later this summer and into the fall and present a finalized map at the end of the year.
The new ridings will be in place for the next election expected in 2015.