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Proposed federal boundary change ridiculous, says MP

Westlock could end up in the same federal riding as Peace River and High Level if the first draft of a proposed boundary redistribution is adopted.

Westlock could end up in the same federal riding as Peace River and High Level if the first draft of a proposed boundary redistribution is adopted.

The new riding, called Peace River-Westlock, would include Barrhead and Westlock in the south and extend all the way to the Northwest Territories and B.C. borders to the northwest.

MP Brian Storseth said the proposed riding would simply be too big for one MP to effectively represent.

“I can tell you from my opinion, that’s a ridiculous proposition for a riding,” he said. “It’s far too large, it has far too many geographical trading areas in it and I do not believe it would do justice to my current constituents in the Westlock area.”

The proposed new riding is part of the first draft of a redistribution process that is required every 10 years by the Canadian Constitution. The current redistribution process will include six new ridings in Alberta, for a total of 34, to account for recent population increases.

“It’s important to keep in mind that this is a first draft that was basically a computer-generated model from population numbers that are put in and with the commission obviously looking at it,” Storseth said.

The process will now go to a public hearing stage, where the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission will travel through the province to solicit feedback. A final draft is scheduled to reach the Chief Electoral Officer by Dec. 21, 2012.

Storseth said the single recommendation his riding association has made is to maintain the existing borders of Westlock-St. Paul, two communities that have a lot in common with an agricultural background, potentially budding oil and gas development and a high proportion of seniors.

He added he has meetings scheduled with mayors and reeves across his riding and hopes to gauge everybody’s opinions, and recommends anybody with concerns write a letter to the commission.

As for what his plans might be for future elections, given that his current riding could be split into several different ridings, Storseth said it’s too soon to say.

“All I’m going to focus on for the next few years is representing to people of Westlock-St. Paul,” he said.

“That’s who I was elected to represent until 2015 and that’s what I intend to do.”

For more about the proposed redistribution visit http://tinyurl.com/79yhs7p, or turn to Page 6 of this week’s Town & Country.