Ouellette opposed to boundary shift

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Luke Ouellette said proposed boundary changes would “completely demolish” his riding and he urged the commission redrawing Alberta’s electoral map to leave well enough alone.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Luke Ouellette said proposed boundary changes would “completely demolish” his riding and he urged the commission redrawing Alberta’s electoral map to leave well enough alone.

Ouellette said the current constituency boundaries make sense and best serve the area’s residents and proposed changes are less than ideal.

“So I would say why so we have to create a less-than-ideal situation if we don’t have to,” he said in a presentation to the electoral boundaries commission Tuesday evening at the Red Deer Lodge that drew about 20 people.

Under the interim boundary report released earlier this year, Ouellette’s riding would be flipped from an east-west riding to one running on a north-south axis.

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 thasn at present.

Marlin Styner, of the Red Deer South Constituency Association, urged the commission to drop a proposal to carve out parts of south Red Deer, including Inglewood, Southbrook, Bower and most of Anders, and place them in a newly created Innisfail-Red Deer riding.

Styner said the existing boundary along Delburne Road is more logical and using the city’s natural border will make it easier in the future to create an extra constituency to accommodate growth in the area.

Town of Olds representatives also took issue with plans to alter the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding. Mayor Judy Dahl said Olds College, the town’s major employer, would be in a different constituency under proposed boundary changes that draw the line along Hwy 2A.

The changes also don’t take into account trade patterns, school boundaries and the network of regional partnerships that have been created among communities in the area.

Commission chairman Judge Ernest Walter said the commission has heard Red Deer’s concerns and the desire in Central Alberta to maintain ridings built along east-west lines.

The commission has a fair amount of flexibility but tries to keep ridings as near to the target population of 40,880 as practical. That is why the public input sessions that will be taking place across Alberta are so important, he said.

“I’m confident that after we receive their input and analyzed it and had a hard look at it we’ll probably be able to accommodate most of the changes requested that make sense,” he said.

The Red Deer hearing continues today, with Rocky Mountain House MLA Ty Lund and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz among those making presentations.

The commission will present its final report July 22.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com