Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion pro­posal ex­pands lo­cal rid­ing

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Come the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion, the rid­ing of Drumheller might right­fully be named Drumheller-Strath­more.

The Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion de­liv­ered its in­terim re­port last week and rec­om­mended some big changes to the lo­cal rid­ing.

The pro­posed bound­aries will re­move Stet­tler from the rid­ing, adding Strath­more. This will bump the rid­ing pop­u­la­tion up from 36,810 to 54,232, a vari­ance of 16 per cent over the pro­vin­cial av­er­age of 46,698. MLA Rick Strankman sees a loss of ru­ral rep­re­sen­ta­tions. “I look across the prov­ince, you look at Vul­can-Taber, for ex­am­ple, it goes all the way from Vul­can, north of Cal­gary to Cyprus Hills,” he said. “It puts us over the av­er­age limit.”

He says that ru­ral politi­cians have the chal­lenge of geog­ra­phy com­pared to ur­ban rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“From where I live, it would take three and a half hours to drive to Strath­more,” he said. “It re­lates to a tone deaf­ness of those who have no con­se­quence for ru­ral based ar­eas. If they want to get equity by pop­u­la­tion, ul­ti­mately the ru­ral ar­eas will pay the penalty for that.”

“I think there should be some le­niency to the ru­ral rid­ing be­cause agri­cul­ture is such a large eco­nomic driver in the prov­ince

and that is also where a lot of our oil in­dus­try is as well, it’s about rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” he said.

Bruce McLeod of Acme is an ap­pointee to the Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion and says a de­cline in the pop­u­la­tion of the Drumheller-Stet­tler rid­ing was a con­sid­ered.

“When we looked at the Drumheller area, and the re­duc­tion of the pop­u­la­tion out there, we had to do some­thing,” he said. “In or­der to keep it vi­able, we had to look at other op­tions and part of the op­tion was to put you with Strath­more. It seemed like a good fit. Peo­ple talk­ing, es­pe­cially in Drumheller, show we have a more vi­able trad­ing cor­ri­dor with Strath­more than they do with any­one else.”

He adds that the com­mis- sion was ham­pered by not be­ing able to add any rid­ings to the ex­ist­ing 87.

“The gov­ern­ment should have rec­og­nized that we need one in Cal­gary and One in Edmonton, and that pic­ture would have been a whole lot dif­fer­ent than what we did, but we couldn’t change the 87 num­ber,” said McLeod.

He stresses this is an in­terim re­port.

“We are do­ing some con­sul­ta­tion in July, peo­ple can do writ­ten re­sponses to the re­port up un­til July 8, and then we will be do­ing an­other road trip,” he said. “There will be an­other con­sul­ta­tion.”

He said the fi­nal re­port must be in front of the leg­is­la­ture by Oc­to­ber 31.

The Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion has re­leased its in­terim re­port and it pro­poses the ad­di­tion of Strath­more to the lo­cal rid­ing.

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