Electoral Boundaries Commission collects feedback on interim report

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The final report is due in October

The electoral boundaries commission has wrapped up its interim report on public hearings that collected feedback on boundary maps that would redraw the St. Albert constituencies.

Sturgeon County Mayor Tom Flynn is concerned with having one MLA represent both an urban and rural area.

“It is very difficult for a person to represent that much diversity,” Flynn said.

Flynn said that with the new boundaries, Sturgeon County which is turning 100 years old next year, will continue to lose part of its identity.

Another problem with the report is that rural Alberta is going to lose representation, Flynn said.

“One of the things that is happening over time is the rural parts of Alberta are getting less and less representation. There will be a general feeling in rural Alberta that they will have less influence on policy that affect agriculture in the long run,” Flynn said.

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said that he is indifferent to the new ridings and that it matters more about the MLA representing the riding than the riding geography.

“For me the most important thing is a good quality elected official. Where they reside and how big their territory is, is kind of almost insignificant. What is the quality of the person that is delivering the service to the community,” Crouse said.

Crouse said that he also thinks that there is no easy solution for a community the size of St. Albert. The 65,000 residents will need to be split up and he said he will accept whatever decision the board makes because they have been studying the issue for longer.

The St. Albert ridings would be redrawn and once again split between two MLAs.

The city will be split down Boudreau Road and the northern portion of St. Albert Trail, with another border created at the west boundary of the city. The majority of St. Albert will be the west constituency and will abandon Spruce Grove.

The riding of St. Albert would be home to 47,745 people, which is two per cent above the provincial average.

The remaining 17,844 St. Albert residents who live in Erin Ridge North, Erin Ridge, Oakmont, Woodlands, Kingswood and Pineview will join with communities northeast of the city and become St. Albert-Redwater. This riding will be home to 45,426 people, which is three per cent below the provincial average.

St. Albert-Redwater constituency will extend 187 kilometres from St. Albert northeast to Goodfish Lake. The riding will include the communities of Bon Accord, Gibbons, Redwater, Smoky Lake and Vilna.

St. Albert-Spruce Grove MLA Trevor Horne said that he gave feedback on the interim report and would rather see the current divide stay where it is in the city. He said many of his constituents are just getting used to the current city divide on the west side of the city.

Horne also said he would like to see communities that have closer cultural ties be brought together and ideally would like to see the west side of St. Albert join with communities to the north and east, such as Morinville and Legal.

The MLA said that communities to the east of St. Albert have very little in common with the city and are most likely not even coming into St. Albert.

The board is now reviewing submissions on the interim report and the board will release a final report in October.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.