|Town opposed to proposed boundary|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by Trevor Busch|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2013 18:00|
Town council voted to officially endorse a position opposing proposed federal constituency boundary changes at their most recent council meeting.
Under recommendations recently handed down by the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission (AEBC) in Ottawa, the M.D. of Taber is slated to become part of a huge new southern Alberta riding — Bow River — which in its current incarnation would stretch north-south across the interior of the province.
“I personally don’t feel that being included in the Bow River Constituency would be in our best interests, for a number of reasons,” said Mayor Ray Bryant.
“Mainly, being that we’re more aligned and in tune with Highway 3, and the agriculture segment, plus the oil and gas, that we have more to do with those municipalities in the south region, rather than having to deal with a constituency going north of us.”
The Town of Taber was invited to submit an official position regarding the AEBC’s recommendations to Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne by Dec. 31, 2012.
A letter was drafted by Mayor Ray Bryant after informal consultation with councillors prior to the deadline, and submitted to Payne on Dec. 27, 2012.
Encompassing a vast tract of territory, which in addition to the M.D. of Taber includes the counties of Vulcan, Newell, Wheatland and parts of the counties of Kneehill and Rocky View — the Bow River Constituency will range from Three Hills in the north to Taber in the south, a distance of almost 300 kilometres.
Bryant’s letter to Payne, now officially endorsed by council, expressed disappointment with the proposed boundary changes and the area’s inclusion in the new Bow River Constituency.
“We find this to be a radical change from the constituency boundaries that were originally proposed by the commission,” said Bryant in the letter.
“We are strongly opposed to the town’s inclusion in the recommended Bow River Constituency and ask that the federal government not accept the AEBC’s recommendation in this regard.”
Bryant went on to note in the letter that Taber’s economic and social interests rest more easily on a east-west axis rather than a north-south connection.
“Our council has great concern that the interests of Taber and area do not align at all well with the rest of the proposed Bow River Constituency. In particular, we are concerned about our inclusion with areas situated on the eastern outskirts of the City of Calgary. That area has a large population base with a Calgary focus, and interests that are very different from ours. A small, rural community such as ours will not be well represented in such a constituency; the power and interests will be dictated by the Calgary area.”
Bryant also made reference to various interests which may have skewed the viewpoint of the AEBC in making their boundary decisions and recommendations.
“In making its recommendation for the new Bow River Constituency, we believe that the commission may have been misled by an organized lobby or has not given full consideration to the social and economic relationships that exist in our area.”
Based upon population levels, but intended to deliver an overall agricultural focus, the proposed Bow River riding would include the population centres of Strathmore (12,352), Brooks (10,093), Vulcan (1,836), Vauxhall (1,288), Bassano (1,282), and Chestermere (14,943).
Besides the potential loss of the M.D. of Taber and the Brooks-Bassano area, both of which would be absorbed into the new Bow River riding, other big changes are being considered for Medicine Hat constituency. With boundaries being redrawn to follow the "Mormon Trail" all the way to Cardston and the border of Waterton Lakes National Park, this could result in two Conservative MPs — Jim Hillyer and LaVar Payne — facing off for the Medicine Hat nomination.