Communities like Wetaskiwin and Ponoka could transform from the big-fish-in-a-little-pond to little-fish-in-a-big-pond if the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission proceeds with the proposed new riding being considered.. The Commission, an independent body from the federal Government has been tasked with redrawing the federal electoral boundaries to account for the growth in population in Canada has seen over the last 10 years. The proposed size of the new riding is 107,466 residents
The good news is Alberta will be gaining 6 new seats in the House of Commons. The bad news is the rural based riding currently represented by MP Calkins will replaced by an urban dominated new riding, Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. Wetaskiwin's MP is currently Blaine Calkins who lives in Ponoka which would be in the proposed new riding of Red Deer-Wolf Creek
On Thursday, September 8th, the Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Alan Greene led a group of concerned residents and politicians through a presentation about the proposed changes. He highlighted, “just some of what this means”. The new riding would contain 30,000 residents from the City of Edmonton, 24,000 from Leduc and 13,000 from Beaumont. This would create a dramatic shift for Wetaskiwin from being part of a riding dealing primarily with rural issues to one that would be dealing with issues that take on more of an urban focus. It would also split the County of Wetaskiwin, the County of Leduc and the 4 bands would be in one riding and the Pigeon Lake property in another making it difficult to maintain relationships for those organizations.
MP Caulkins attended the luncheon as a resource person. He explains in his newsletter, “The commission's main aim in redrawing boundaries is to divide the province into electoral districts as close to the average population as reasonably possible. Typically, boundary changes are done every 10 years to account for the population increases. This boundary review is unique in that it will see the National seat allocation increase by 30 seats total. Under the initial boundary redistribution, the riding of Wetaskiwin will cease to exist, separating the north east portion of the riding into Edmonton, the south east portion into Red Deer and the west end into the Yellowhead constituency.
While these changes will not take effect until 2015, the Commission has scheduled a number of public hearings so that the community can voice any concerns they may have. If you would like to attend a public hearing regarding the proposed changes, they will take place at the following times and locations:
Red Deer – Sheraton (Capri), Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
Red Deer – Sheraton (Capri), Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
Edmonton – Westin, Wednesday, 12 September 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
Edmonton – Westin, Thursday, 13 September 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Edmonton – Westin, Thursday, 13 September 2012 at 1:00 p.m.
Camrose – Norsemen Inn, Friday, 14 September 2012 at 11:00 a.m.
Viewing a map of the proposed riding, it would combine Edmonton's suburban areas south of Ellerslie Road in the southwest part of the city and south of Anthony Henday Dr. in the southeast along with communities such as Leduc, Beaumont, Millet and Wetaskiwin. The proposed riding also contains a large part of Leduc County.
Following a great deal of discussion and concern from the participants, Mr. Greene concluded his presentation with the invitation, “We want to hear from you” about:
• Speaking to the boundary commission September 14th
• Coordinating our efforts with the City of Wetaskiwin, County of Wetaskiwin and Millet
• Is this as bad as we fear
• What stands out for you
The proposal can be viewed online at the Federal Boundary Redistribution website. For more information contact the Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce 780) 352-8003 or the Conservative Constituency office at 403-783-5530 or the website www.blainecalkinsmp.ca