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Thursday, 02 August 2012 15:59

Proposal: Southern Alberta to get another MP

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The proposed new riding for Medicine Hat appears shaded in brown. The grey borders represent the current boundaries of the Medicine Hat Riding. The proposed new riding for Medicine Hat appears shaded in brown. The grey borders represent the current boundaries of the Medicine Hat Riding. Screen capture

Voters throughout southern Alberta could see some major changes in the next federal election with the addition of a new electoral district.


In July, the Alberta Commission for the redistribution of federal electoral districts released its report showing the proposed ridings for the province.
Currently southern Alberta is represented by Macleod (in the west), Lethbridge and Medicine Hat (in the east). Because of population increases, especially in Chestermere, Lethbridge, Okotoks, and Strathmore, commission members have proposed creating a new electoral district. The proposed four districts would be named Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Foothills (formerly Macleod) and the newly-created Bow River.
The goal of the commission was to keep the populations of the districts around 107,000. In doing so, additional electoral districts have been added. It is proposed there will be six new districts in Alberta — one in northern Alberta, two in and around Edmonton, two in Calgary and the one in southern Alberta.
In southeast Alberta, the riding of Medicine Hat could be changing substantially. It is proposed Brooks, Tilley, Rainier, Scandia and surrounding communities would no longer be included and instead move into the new riding of Bow River. That new riding would also include Strathmore, Drumheller and communities along Highway 2 including Nanton, Claresholm and Fort Macleod. Oyen moves from its current location in Crowfoot, and into Medicine Hat.
The area the current MP LaVar Payne would have to travel would increase. The new proposed boundaries include the north and west limits of Special Area No. 3, the southwest limit of Special Area No. 2, the northwest limit of Cypress County, the north limit of the M.D. of Taber, the north limit of Warner County No. 5 and south to the U.S. border. The population of this new riding would be 109,235.
“It was a big surprise,” said Payne, when he saw the proposed new electoral district.
He especially never thought he would see Brooks, where he has an office, be taken out of his area.
“Brooks is quite close to Medicine Hat,” he added, especially in the trading corridor. “I was surprised to see it was moved out of the riding.”
Payne said based on the additions to the riding, he would face much longer travel times in order to visit the various communities.
“It will make things a little bit harder, but I will do whatever I can to represent the people of the riding.”
He encouraged individuals who may have concerns about the changes to the electoral districts to contact the commission. There is only one public hearing scheduled for southern Alberta in Lethbridge on Sept. 18 at noon.
To make a presentation at a public hearing, a written notice must be sent to the commission no later than Aug. 10. Everyone is invited to attend.
To learn more about hearing dates and locations or to send a notice of representation, visit www.federal redistribution.ca under Alberta, mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 1-855-747-7232.
The issue of riding changes is one the members of the Brooks and District Chamber of Commerce will be keeping a close eye on.
Jeanette Hycha, Brooks Chamber president, says she has initial concerns about being in a different riding than Medicine Hat.
“It places us in a market going as far north as Calgary,” she says. “There are certain differences we have, but there are many similarities about being a part of the southeast corner.”
 She says Brooks is in the unique position of being an equal distance from Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Calgary, placing them central. She hopes, if the ridings were changed and Brooks remains attached more to the Calgary area, that the city will still be recognized and receive the attention it has as part of the Medicine Hat riding.
“Absolutely, we’ll be keeping an eye on it,” she adds. “We’ll be paying close attention (to the issue) and working with the City of Brooks and our business members.”
Milvia Bauman, chairman of the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce, says she has heard some comments from people who are not pleased with an increased number of MPs for the province as it will cost more money for offices and staff for these people, along with the additional salaries.
As a Chamber, there is some concern Medicine Hat’s MP will be stretched thinner with a larger geographical area to cover and Bauman also questions the reasoning behind pulling the Brooks area from the riding when the natural trade corridor has Brooks and Medicine Hat partnering.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor