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New Yellowhead federal riding includes Sundre, Carstairs, Cremona

Current Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen says if he runs in the next federal election, it would be in the Red Deer riding
The proposed new Yellowhead electoral district includes towns of Banff, Canmore and Jasper together with Edson, Hinton, Grande Cache, Rocky Mountain House, Sundre, Caroline, Cremona, Carstairs, Crossfield, the summer villages of Burnstick Lake, Ghost Lake and Waiporous, and the municipal districts of Bighorn No. 8 and Clearwater County. Screenshot

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta (FEBCA) has concluded the work of redrawing the province’s federal electoral map, which if approved by members of Parliament as expected, will see Sundre, Carstairs, Cremona and a portion of Mountain View County in the new Yellowhead riding.

It was announced earlier this year that Olds, Didsbury, Bowden and Innisfail will be in the new Ponoka-Didsbury riding.

MPs will make the final decision on the proposed new boundaries, which will come into effect at the end of April 2024. If a federal election is called prior to that time, the current boundaries will be used.

The current Red Deer-Mountain View riding held by Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen includes Mountain View County and the towns of Sundre, Olds, Didsbury, Carstairs, Bowden and Innisfail, the Village of Cremona, and a portion of Red Deer County.

Established in November 2021, the independent FEBCA has worked to set boundaries so that each electoral district in the province contains roughly the same number of people while also taking into account communities of interest or identity, historical patterns and geographic size in sparsely populated regions, officials said. 

The FEBCA has submitted its final report to the chief electoral officer for transmission to the speaker of the House of Commons. The officer will use the electoral boundaries described in the report in drafting the representation order updating the ridings.

As well as Sundre and Carstairs, the new Yellowhead riding will also include parts of Mountain View County lying southerly and westerly of a line commencing at a point on the easterly shoreline of the Red Deer River and the westerly limit of the county.

It would also include the Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8 and Clearwater County.

Dreeshen says he is generally pleased with the new riding boundaries, noting that input from area residents and municipalities was taken into account in the process.

“What they (commission) had recommended originally would have really carved up central Alberta in a way that I felt was not manageable,” Dreeshen told the Albertan

“So I had discussions with municipal leaders in central Alberta and we made a point of letting the commission know that something had to be done.

“What they have now proposed does make things into one manageable riding (Ponoka-Didsbury). It is much better than it was. There has been some consideration of some of the requests that had been made from municipalities and I think from that perspective it is good.”

It is good to have Bowden, Innisfail and Olds kept together in the same riding, he said. 

“I think that is important,” he said.

Losing some Red Deer-Mountain View communities to the new Yellowhead riding is disappointing, he said.

“My personal feelings that I have about it is that I was honoured to be able to represent the whole of Mountain View County and with that Sundre and Water Valley and all the west area that I’ve always had a great admiration for,” he said.

Dreeshen says if he runs in the next federal election, it would be in the Red Deer riding.

Town of Carstairs Mayor Lance Colby questioned why Carstairs would be part of the Yellowhead and not the Ponoka-Didsbury riding.

“It doesn’t seem to make much sense that we are just 10 kilometres south of Didsbury and we are out of the riding,” said Colby. “That is confusing to me as to why they would set the boundary that way. That surprises me that Carstairs would be out of there.”

He said he doesn’t know what long-term impact of the town moving to the new riding will be, but he is pleased the province is getting additional new seats.

“The nice thing about the boundary change is Alberta is getting more seats (three), not that it will make a big impact on election results as Ontario and east still have enough votes to determine who wins and who loses,” he said.

Town of Sundre Mayor Richard Warnock says his municipality was made aware of the proposed new Yellowhead riding some time ago.

“We were expecting that of course because we got some pre-notices,” Warnock told the Albertan. “It takes us away from where we were with the Highway 2 corridor and that could be OK as long as it is a tourism-based way that the feds look at it.”

Sundre council and administration will be contacting Dreeshen to discuss the new boundary, he said. 

“We are going to have to, as a municipality, when the summer break is over, contact the MP to see what that means to us,” he said. We will definitely be investigating with the MP about where it all affects us from a federal level. 

“There’s aways a federal funding level that we look forward to and we need to know if this change makes that any different.”

Asked if he thinks the new alignment and riding is a good thing for Sundre, Warnock said, “In our regional discussions we thought it would put us more in with what Sundre really is, more the west country than Carstairs, Didsbury and Olds. Of course it is a time-will-tell scenario.”

In February the commission released an update stating that Innisfail, Olds and Bowden would be in the new Ponoka-Didsbury riding.

“I’m pleased to see the changes that have been made and that the commission listened to the concerns that came forward,” Town of Innisfail Mayor Jean Barclay said at the time. “I think it’s wonderful that we are now in with our regional partners, where a lot more commonalities are in place.”

Innisfail, Bowden and Olds municipal leaders had originally expressed concerns about the possibility of their communities being placed in separate ridings.

Mountain View County reeve Angela Aalbers told the Albertan she is examining the riding change and expects to be able to comment sometime this week.

- With files from Johnnie Bachusky

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