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Federal electoral boundary changes coming

The Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta has recommended for a second time that the Westlock-St.

The Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta has recommended for a second time that the Westlock-St. Paul constituency be dissolved into a new Peace River-Westlock district that stretches from Garden Creek in the north to Barrhead and Westlock in the south.

The Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission — an independent three-person committee — was established on Feb. 21, 2012 as per Canadian law. A review of Canada’s electoral districts is required every 10 years to accommodate new population growth.

In its initial report, the commission recommended the creation of a new Peace River-Westlock electoral district that would stretch from the northwest corner of the province down to Westlock.

The commission then invited residents to provide input on the new riding, either in writing or by e-mail. They could also attend one of several public hearings, including one such meeting at Barrhead in early September.

At that meeting, Yellowhead MP Rob Merrifield and other representatives of local municipalities, including Town of Westlock councillor Sheila Foley, voiced their opposition to the creation of such a large riding.

The commission reflected those concerns in their new report; the new proposed Peace River Westlock riding now only extends slightly north of High Level, not all the way to the Northwest Territories.

The commission’s report was tabled in the House of Commons last week and submitted to the Chief Electoral Office. It will in turn be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.

Once the committee reviews it and makes recommendations to the Electoral Boundaries Commission, they can then submit the report to the Chief Electoral Officer for implementation.

Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth has voiced concern over the proposed district, which he notes is still large even with the changes.

“It would be tough to represent something that large. I think that when you’re adding six seats, you shouldn’t be creating a riding that would be very difficult to be a representative in.”

For more information on the Electoral Boundaries Commission, see Page 1 of this week’s print or e-edition of the Town & Country.

About the Author: Kevin Berger

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