Stettler plans to battle electoral boundaries

Concerned that the southern part of the County of Stettler could be split with proposed changes to the provincial electoral boundaries, the Town of Stettler plans to address the issue with the boundaries commission.

Concerned that the southern part of the County of Stettler could be split with proposed changes to the provincial electoral boundaries, the Town of Stettler plans to address the issue with the boundaries commission.

At its regular meeting March 16, town council decided to file a submission to the Electoral Boundaries Commission and will invite the county to partner in a joint presentation when a public hearing comes to the region in the second half of April.

“A united front would be the best way to strengthen our position to the commission,” said town Mayor Dick Richards.

Councillors Al Campbell and Leona Thorogood suggested that the town present its position to maintain the county within one riding since the town and county municipalities work on various regional partnerships, services and programs.

“We have to strongly support the county on this,” said Councillor Campbell.

“There’s always strength in numbers to show we are partners,’ said Councillor Thorogood.

While the commission proposes in its interim report that the majority of the County of Stettler north of Highway 594 and the Town of Stettler would become part of the new Stettler-Wainwright riding with the Country of Paintearth, areas of the Village of Big Valley, Endiang and Byemoor would shift to the new Brooks-Drumheller constituency.

Written submissions must be received by April 2 before the commission hosts a series of public hearings in various communities throughout the province from April 12 to 30.

After the hearings, the commission is scheduled to release a final report with recommendations in July.

Based on the 2009 provincial population of 3,556,583, the commission is charged with the task to draft boundaries with an average population quotient of 40,880 or within +/- 25 per cent of the provincial average.

Under the draft changes, the population base would be 41,678 for Stettler-Wainwright and 43,113 for Drumheller-Brooks.

If the local boundaries are changed as proposed, that would leave local Drumheller-Stettler MLA Jack Hayden out of the Stettler riding since he resides in Endiang, falling within the new Drumheller-Brooks division.

The boundaries issue will be on the agenda when council plans to meet with Hayden on March 30 to discuss various local issues.

Council also plans to discuss.

• Stettler Hospital upgrading – whether the project is included in the three-year capital plan for Alberta Health Services.

• Enhanced rural policing such as plans to eliminate Stettler RCMP rural traffic department, and additional officers.

• Funding for projects such as upgrading Stettler Recreation Centre with an expansion to Stettler Public Library and space for seniors’ social activities