Several rural ridings should be consolidated to create three new constituencies in urban areas, where the province’s population has skyrocketed since 2010, the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission says.
In its interim report released Thursday, the commission recommends Calgary and Edmonton each get one new riding, and that a new riding be created northwest of Calgary to accommodate the population growth in Airdrie and Cochrane.
The commission proposes the boundary of Fort McMurray-Conklin, currently held by Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, be redrawn to include Lac La Biche. That would bring the population of the new riding to 36,112, still 23 per cent below the provincial average.
The commission has to maintain the same number of constituencies, so it recommends consolidating ridings in areas where population growth has been below the provincial average.
Four constituencies in northeast Alberta (Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and Bonnyville-Cold Lake) are proposed to be consolidated into three.
The commission recommends that seven ridings (Battle River-Wainwright, Drumheller-Stettler, Strathmore-Brooks, Little Bow, Cardston-Taber-Warner, Cypress-Medicine Hat and Vermilion-Lloydminister) be made into six.
Five constituencies north of Red Deer and west of Edmonton — Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, West Yellowhead, Drayton Valley-Devon, Whitecourt-Ste. Anne and Stony Plain — should become four.
“The majority accepts that the time has come to stop treating difference between rural and urban Albertans as a main driver in setting the boundaries of electoral divisions,” the report said.
The decision was reached without deeming any area “rural” or “urban,” the report said.
“Even after fully considering all factors bearing on effective representation, differing rates of population growth compel the creation of new constituencies in certain areas of the province and the…