Controversial changes nixed

Proposed electoral boundaries that would have dramatically altered the political map in Central Alberta to the dismay of some area MLAs have mostly been abandoned.

Proposed electoral boundaries that would have dramatically altered the political map in Central Alberta to the dismay of some area MLAs have mostly been abandoned.

The electoral boundaries commission released a revised map late last week that does not include the most contentious changes proposed for Central Alberta. An earlier version had suggested dropping the traditional east-west alignment of several ridings to create ridings on a north-south axis.

It was also suggested that a chunk of Red Deer South riding, including Inglewood, Southbrook, Bower and much of Anders, be carved out included in a new Innisfail-Red Deer riding. That proposal has been abandoned.

“I don’t relish the fact we need to make changes,” said Dallas, who will lose a small portion of his riding to Red Deer North. “You don’t want to lose constituents.”

However, he is pleased the commission is not taking the portion in the south from his riding. His constituents said loud and clear they did not feel they would be well served in a large, mostly rural riding.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Luke Ouellette told the boundaries commission at a Red Deer meeting suggested changes would “completely demolish” his riding.

Ouellette said on Monday he was pleased that his riding would remain similar to the one he has now and a plan to create a long north-south riding was dropped.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “I would have loved to have kept the whole county (Red Deer County), but I guess you can’t have everything.”

Ouellette said the suggested riding will also fit in well with various regional partnerships as they emerge.

The initial riding suggestion would not have worked near as well, he said.

“It seemed like it was going to be a million miles to drive and not a lot of commonalities as far as who does business with each other. East-west works much, much better I think.”

Rocky Mountain House MLA Ty Lund was pleased to see that a proposal to include parts of Olds in a new Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre has been reconsidered.

Lund had expressed concerns that the first riding proposal would have left an MLA responsible for representing a huge area with two large towns, Olds and Rocky Mountain House, at either end.

Lund said the new version of the riding is almost exactly the same as the one he suggested to the commission. The portion of Olds has been taken out and the riding’s border has been pushed closer to Sundre. The map also includes the trading area for Rimbey, which makes a lot of sense, he added.

Area MLAs worked together to present a map that worked as well as can be expected, he said.

“I think these rural constituencies are getting bigger and they are getting more difficult to serve because of their size. But it’s probably the best we could make of the situation.”

The commission has been charged with reviewing the province’s electoral map and making recommendations on the areas, boundaries and names for 87 electoral divisions — four more than at present.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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