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Proposed electoral map up for revision

By September 14, 2022No Comments
Donna Wilson, a member of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta, shows Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers some of the proposed boundary changes to the Lakeland riding prior to the start of a public hearing at the Holiday Inn on Sept. 8. Aalbers is against Lloydminster and the County of Vermilion River being split up by two ridings. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta will go back to the drawing board to rework proposed changes to the Lakeland constituency map that would split the City of Lloydminster and the County of Vermilion River.

Revisions are in order following a public hearing held in Lloydminster last Thursday with objections to the proposal voiced by representatives from the city, county and Lakeland New Democrats.

“We will be making changes to our proposal based on representations we’ve already received and comments we’ve already received,” said Justice Bruce McDonald who chairs the three-person commission.

The commission’s initial proposed boundary would also change the electoral landscape by moving the rural City of Lloydminster to Battle River-Crowfoot and adding the industrial city of Fort Saskatchewan to Lakeland.

The commission’s mandate under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act is to redraw the electoral districts in Alberta based on criteria such as average population numbers and communities of identity and interest.

“We think we did a pretty good job of putting this together. We’re not perfect and we know there’s things that need to be changed,” said McDonald.

“It’s not cast in stone.”

Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers argues the city and the county are an economic unit that needs to stay intact with the Battle River being a natural dividing line with the Battle River-Crowfoot constituency.

“It takes in the entire County of Vermilion River and we want to work together with the county and other organizations,” said Aalbers.

“We do a lot of work with the county and other partners through various organizations. By splitting the constituency, you get separation.”

Aalbers told the commission the city works with the county on a number of economic fronts including the Vermilion River Regional Alliance of nine member municipalities.

“We work to lobby both provincially and federally and work together,” said Aalbers.

He pointed out that Lloydminster supplies some water to the Alberta Central East Waterline, serving the county and many communities in Lakeland, as an example of regional alignment.

“So there’s a lot of examples out there I am hoping the commission will take into account,” said Aalbers.

The boundary proposal would also shift ParadiseValley to Battle River-Crowfoot, leaving Lloydminster to deal with three MPs and the county with two.

“What happens in the city affects the county and what happens in the county affects the city,” argued Aalbers.

County Reeve Stacey Hyrciuk, along with deputy Reeve Clinton Murray and councillor Marty Baker, say the economic unit with Lloydminster includes smaller municipalities within the county that all work together.

“We’ve got the Village of Paradise Valley that would potentially be cut off with a large portion of the county, separating the county into two regions, which poses a greater challenge,” said Hyrciuk.

“Cutting us down the middle county-wise and leaving some of our neighbourhood on this side and some on the other side makes no sense.”

She says it makes sense for the people trying to work this out on a population base, but things on paper are different from the reality on the ground.

Presenter, Desiree Bissonnette, president of the Lakeland NDP came to tell the commission she doesn’t think Fort Saskatchewan’s profile fits in with a bunch of rural communities in the riding.

“I’m concerned with the addition of Fort Saskatchewan we’re going to have more focus on suburban interests and the rural interests may be left behind,” explained Bissonnette.

“I really love Lakeland having Lloyd and Vermilion together since they have a shared college campus.”

She joked Mundare has the giant sausage, Vermilion has the giant mushrooms, Vegreville has the giant egg, Glendon has the giant pierogi and asks why would you ruin such a great meal.

The commission will wrap up all hearings this month and then hold two virtual hearings in October for people that couldn’t attend the in-person sessions.

“Then we sit down and look at our proposal and change it for our final report that we have to submit to the House of Commons no later than Dec. 15,” said McDonald.

MPs will get their crack at making further suggestions up to May 2023 before the final report goes to Parliament by June.