The Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission has released their recommended map for the 2019 Provincial election, and the Lakeland region has seen some significant changes.
The Lac La Biche-St.Paul-Two Hills riding has essentially been broken up and absorbed into nearby cities. If the proposed boundaries are left unchanged, St. Paul would now be voting in the same district as Fort Saskatchewan, while Lac La Biche would be incorporated into a new “Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche” riding that would put it with the southern half of the northern city. The Bonnyville-Cold Lake riding would also be expanded to include Elk Point, Saddle Lake and the air weapons range.
The urban/rural divide was a common theme the commission heard during their consultations. Many rural leaders – including Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski- argued for more representation for rural areas instead of dividing districts strictly on population. Sobolewski argued that MLAs have a difficult time covering such a large swath of land and that giving Edmonton and Calgary so many ridings would cause the rest of the province to be neglected.
The commission addressed these concerns in their report, saying that more citizens contact their MLA by phone or email instead of going to a physical office, and that lower rural representation is a consequence of an urbanizing society. Edmonton and Calgary’s metro areas account for roughly 55% of the population of Alberta.