You’ve probably received the card in the mail from the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission telling about the need to review our provincial constituency boundaries, and inviting you to attend public hearings. You may also have directed the card to the recycling bin. Well, the County of St. Paul council recognizes the public hearing as an opportunity to give voice to rural concerns, and is planning its submission. Reeve Steve Upham will be presenting the county’s view on Monday, January 23, at the Canalta Hotel in St. Paul, where the hearing begins at 1:00pm.
At the county council meeting on Tuesday, January 10 Councillor Frank Sloan contrasted ridings in urban areas with our local ridings. Regarding the electoral boundaries changes, he said, “They can’t only do it by population. There are issues. There’s so much government land, here, there are oilfields, and there are issues around highways that are a lot different than for 50 miles of street.” Councillor Glen Ockerman added, “There are highway facilities that we have to run.” Ockerman recognized that urban populations are growing faster than rural ones, but says that the last electoral boundary review “took eight more seats away from rural Alberta.” He would like to see more representation from rural areas.
County CAO, Sheila Kitz, noted, “With all the ridings in Edmonton, each MLA only has to deal with one municipality. A rural MLA has to deal with many municipalities.” For example, the County of St Paul is in the same riding as the Town of Lac La Biche, the County of Two Hills, Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, and Saddle Lake First Nations, all with diverse resource bases and specific needs and wants.
Kitz will work with county administration to draft a submission to be circulated to the board and presented at the public hearing.