MLA not pleased with new electoral boundaries

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

The MLA for Livingstone-Macleod is not happy about proposed changes to electoral boundaries that would see the Town of High River added to the constituency.

Pat Stier said he met twice with the Electoral Boundaries Commission after the first draft of a report was presented recommending the change.

“I had a lot of concerns,” he said.

One is the commission is taking two ridings out of rural areas to put in the cities.

That means expanding the size of rural ridings even more.

“It caused mine to expand,” Stier said.

He does welcome the addition of Waterton to his riding, because he sees that as similar to the Crowsnest Pass which is already in the riding.

“I thought that was a mutual fit,” he said.

“What I’m not happy about is they’ve put High River into the riding in exchange for Black Diamond-Turner Valley.”

Stier pointed out that High River, Okotoks and the Municipal District of Foothills have joint-use agreements, and a common trading corridor.

“It makes no sense to me,” he said. “It’s going to cause a bit of a headache for me.”

Stier emphasized he has nothing against High River. In fact he worked there.

“I know High River,” he said. “I’m happy to serve.

“But I don’t think they should be split from Okotoks.”

Moreover, with High River becoming the biggest population centre in the riding, Stier said the perspective and priorities will likely change.

He noted he and several rural MLAs tried to get changes made to the electoral boundaries.

They will continue to try when these recommendations are tabled in the legislature where they will be debated.

“We’re concerned about the change in representation,” Stier said, adding it is hard enough to manage rural representation as it is and get to all parts of the riding. “I have felt guilty not being more visible.”

His message to the government will be that population is not the only factor in determining electoral boundaries.

They need to look at size and see what is fair.

“We’re going to try to (fight) it if we can,” he said.