The Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission presented its final report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta Oct. 19, after approximately one year of work, including consultation with Albertans. The report proposes the city of Airdrie be split into two constituencies – Airdrie East and Airdrie-Cochrane.
The average population per constituency mandated by the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act should be about 46,803; however, the current population of Airdrie exceeds this threshold, leading the commission to propose an additional constituency, according to Laurie Livingstone, commission member from Calgary.
“We tried a lot of different variations around Airdrie. Airdrie itself is too large to be one constituency itself at this point so that made it a forced choice – it had to be split some way,” she said.
Livingstone added several proposals were considered but this option “seemed the best fit.”
“The choice to include Cochrane was a choice made with some similarities between the Town of Cochrane and the City of Airdrie in terms of being bedroom communities of Calgary with some similar interests. A lot of it was the population of Airdrie – that forced cut that made us have to find an option to deal with that,” she said.
The new Airdrie-Cochrane constituency would include the section of Airdrie west of Eighth Street and north of Yankee Valley Boulevard, as well as land to the north of the city to Madden and Crossfield.
“It’s disturbing that this commission doesn’t even understand Airdrie,” said Airdrie MLA Angela Pitt. “The people of Airdrie – and I’m assuming of Cochrane – (the commission) didn’t really listen to us. Mayor Peter Brown did a great presentation to the commission with great rationale and they still view us as a bedroom community.”
“It’s good for us because we’ll have two people advocating for our municipality,” Mayor Peter Brown said. “There is a downside – they may not be from Airdrie; they could be from other municipalities. (The commission didn’t) take into consideration any future growth so we’re nine per cent heavy on the west side over the provincial average and we’re seven per cent over on the east. It won’t be long before we’ll have to have three.”
The newly revamped Airdrie-East constituency will include Kathyrn and Delacour. While Pitt said she thinks the fact Airdrie will have a second constituency is good for the city, she found the new boundary to be “strange, because they don’t necessarily live like us.”
“I think it’s great for Airdrie to have double the voice in the legislature,” she said.
“It’s very, very common for rural constituents to feel like they’re kind of being left out, when they’re lumped in with a larger municipality where the bulk of the population is. It’s hard to be up against a municipality that obviously has a lot more people in it.”
Now that the report has been presented to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, that body will debate and may pass legislation implementing the report recommendations. If approved, the constituency boundaries would change in time for the next provincial election in 2019.