INNISFAIL – When it comes to federal election boundaries, the Town of Innisfail council wants to remain with its current closest neighbours.
And that is what mayor Jean Barclay will firmly tell the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta (FEBCA) in-person at a public hearing in Calgary on Sept. 20.
“Definitely we want to remain in this area and in the riding, whatever that may look like. We are approaching the commission from the standpoint that we would like to remain within the city of Red Deer and Penhold, Innisfail and Bowden, much like what it is like now,” said Barclay, who is going to the Calgary hearing with Bowden mayor Robb Stuart. “That shared community interest is one of the parameters that they base their decision on; commonality and community interests of the various communities that are being impacted.”
On Sept. 6, the Alberta commission began a month-long series of 24 public hearings, including in Olds and Red Deer on Sept. 21. There is a virtual hearing on Oct. 14.
FEBCA is proposing three new federal ridings to add to the province’s current 34 electoral districts. The plan has Innisfail and Bowden removed from the current Red Deer - Mountain View riding and into the huge redrawn Bow River riding.
Innisfail would be tucked near the northwest corner of the Bow River riding that stretches east to the Saskatchewan border and south to near Lethbridge.
The FEBCA proposal was brought to council’s attention last month by Barclay for discussion, and all members wanted the town’s objections made at the Sept. 20 public hearing.
“It’s insanity that they think that we have a lot in common with Tilley and Acadia Valley, or places like that. There's nothing. Those are not our partners,” said Coun. Jason Heistad last month at council.
Barclay said the town has been collaborating on the issue with Red Deer County and the Town of Bowden. She said there have also been discussions with Red Deer – Mountain View Member of Parliament Earl Dreeshen.
“It's quite clear that we don't have a connection to the southern Alberta riding that they want us to move into,” added Barclay, pointing out the adverse impact the riding boundary change would have on the community. “If we have an MP that's living down in southern Alberta, are they going to be able to represent us appropriately? And do they understand what our needs are in this community? How many times are we going to see them? It’s very concerning.”