By Jamie Rieger
Albertans who have concerns about the proposed electoral boundaries for the province have until July 16 to submit written submissions to the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission.
Rural Alberta is set to lose three ridings, with the Cypress-Medicine Hat riding, currently represented by MLA Drew Barnes.
Already a large riding, the proposed Taber-Vulcan riding, which would include Cypress-Medicine Hat, would stretch from the southeast corner of the province to northwest of Vulcan.
Local leaders are weighing in on the negative impact this will have on the area.
“It will make it difficult and very challenging for our MLA to cover and adequately represent the constituency, partly because of the distance, but also because of the diversity of the communities,” said Bow Island mayor Gordon Reynolds. “It feels like the rural voice is being quieted.”
The commission has been steadfast on sticking to the golden number of 48,000 people per riding, despite taking into consideration for geography of the riding. Currently, there are 87 electoral divisions in the province, with an average of 46,697 in each riding.
“There is a complete disregard for a big part of the riding. It is a disregard of the history, traditions, and patterns of commerce,” said Reynolds.
County of Forty Mile Reeve Bryne Lengyel said that with more being dumped on the municipalities by the provincial government, it is vital that the MLA be able to represent the communities in the constituency.
“This is going to cause more of a divide than anything,” said Lengyel. “There are a lot of things being downloaded by the government to municipalities, so we need an MLA who is accessible.”
Both Reynolds and Lengyel encourage the people of southeast Alberta to let their concerns be known to the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission by visiting their website at abebc.ca and click on written submissions. Submissions must be received by July 16.