Acme mayor ap­pointed to Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion

The Drumheller Mail - - AROUND TOWN - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

The prov­ince may look dif­fer­ent when the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion comes around as the new Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion sets to work to find a bal­ance.

A new Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion is struck af­ter ev­ery sec­ond pro­vin­cial gen­eral elec­tion, be­tween 8 and 10 years from the ap­point­ment of the last com­mis­sion. This year the com­mis­sion is made up of five mem­bers, chaired by Jus­tice Myra Bielby along with Bruce McLeod, Mayor of Acme, and Jean Munn, as rec­om­mend by Premier Rachel Not­ley, and Lau­rie Liv­ing­stone and Gwen Day, as rec­om­mended by Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Brian Jean.

“This needs to be done, the pop­u­la­tion of Al­berta has in­creased al­most 20 per cent since the last time it was done,” said McLeod. “We have to look at ev­ery­thing.”

The Com­mis­sion will be­gin its work this month. The Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion con­sid­ers pop­u­la­tion rel­a­tive to den­sity, ex­ist­ing mu­nic­i­pal and nat­u­ral bound­aries and ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It is also hold­ing pub­lic hear­ings to gar­ner in­put from res­i­dents.

McLeod said the first step is to look at the num­bers. As a guide un­der the leg­is­la­tion, “The pop­u­la­tion of a pro­posed elec­toral divi­sion must not be more than 25% above nor more than 25% be­low the av­er­age pop­u­la­tion of all the pro­posed elec­toral di­vi­sions.”

There are some ex­cep­tions for sparsely pop­u­lated ar­eas, dis­tance from the leg­is­la­ture, the ab­sence of a town with a pop­u­la­tion greater than 8,000 within the riding and first na­tions com­mu­ni­ties or Métis set­tle­ments.

“We have to look at it all. The first snap­shot is al­ways the num­bers and then you start look­ing at the com­mu­nity of in­ter­est. We have to look at it all be­fore you make rec­om­men­da­tions,” he said. “That’s why when we do the road trip (the pub­lic meet­ings), we get pub­lic in­put from those meet­ings, that’s when we th­ese other is­sue come unit con­sid­er­a­tion.”

While many ru­ral rid­ings may have smaller pop­u­la­tions, the MLA is of­ten charged with rep­re­sent­ing vast ar­eas ge­o­graph­i­cally. While in ur­ban ar­eas, the riding may be small, the pop­u­la­tion may be much greater.

“Most of the big growth we see is in the City of Cal­gary and the City of Edmonton, and of course the big what if, is Fort McMur­ray. How many peo­ple have re­turned? That is the other side of the story we have to look at be­cause not only do we have to take a snap­shot of to­day, we have to think about five years af­ter the elec­tion.”

“I am a ru­ral guy and I know that Olds-Dids­bury-Three Hills is a very big con­stituency and it’s hard to rep­re­sent ev­ery­body, but then I know MLAs in Cal­gary for ex­am­ple, and they have six com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions within their riding. Sure it only takes 20 min­utes to get to the com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion but now they are rep­re­sent­ing 65,000 peo­ple for ex­am­ple.”

One as­pect that he says is chal­leng­ing is that their rec­om­men­da­tions have to be done within the con­fines of the 87 rid­ings.

“The dif­fi­cult part of it is that within the leg­is­la­tion we are not able to add an­other con­stituency. That would have to be done by the gov­ern­ment them­selves. We can make rec­om­men­da­tions to look at this but they don’t have to take that.”

The task is large with very tight time­lines.

“We have to have our first re­port into the gov­ern­ment in the spring, and then our fi­nal one in by Oc­to­ber 1,” he said.

In Drumheller-Stet­tler, the 2011 cen­sus showed a pop­u­la­tion of 36,840, and is es­ti­mated to be 37,852 in 2016. The av­er­age pop­u­la­tion for each con­stituency is rec­om­mended to be about 49,000.

Bruce McLeod... Mayor of Acme

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