Population shifts and the creation of 6 new electoral districts have resulted in a new electoral district landscape for Alberta. As one electoral boundary was drawn, an adjacent electoral district was inevitably impacted. In the result, all electoral districts in Alberta have been altered – some more substantially than others.
The Commission found no extraordinary circumstances requiring deviation from the electoral quota by more than the 25% contemplated by subsection 15(2) of the Act. The largest electoral district recommended has a 2011 decennial population of 111,917, which is 4.39% above the electoral quota. The smallest population recommended has a 2011 decennial census count of 102,272, which is 4.61% below the electoral quota. All proposed districts are within 5% of the electoral quota.
The Commission is aware of its right to deviate further from the electoral quota, but found it neither necessary, nor desirable, to do so. After consideration of the criteria enumerated in section 15 of the Act, the Commission is satisfied that effective representation can occur within the proposed boundaries.
The Commission was governed by its constitutional and statutory obligations in preparing its proposed redistribution plan. As required by section 15 of the Act, the Commission considered the geographic size, community of interest or community of identity in, and the historical pattern of, each electoral district in determining whether deviation from the electoral quota was either necessary or desirable. The Commission considered the topography of each district and the impact of its geographic size on representation of any district, particularly in the northern and less populated areas.
Ms. Joanne Gérémian, a skillful geography specialist, worked with the Commission. In addition, the Commission had access to data from the Department of Natural Resources and the Chief Statistician of Canada. Population figures are based on the 2011 census, as provided by Statistics Canada. The Commission considered existing federal electoral, provincial electoral, county and municipal boundaries and made efforts to follow such boundaries where convenient and considered desirable.
By use of its website, the Commission invited brief comments and suggestions from the public. This was not intended as a substitute for the full public hearings, which will occur following publication of this proposed redistribution plan. The Commission appreciates the many comments, recommended maps and recommendations received. These comments identified many issues which were discussed and considered.
In determining the names of the electoral districts, the Commission chose names meant to reflect an identifying physical or historical site, object or geographical feature of the electoral districts. Following the federal guidelines, where an electoral district was substantially altered, a new name was selected. Considering that most electoral districts are comprised of multiple communities, the Commission, for the most part, avoided selecting one community as the name.
The Commission welcomes full input from Albertans at the public hearings, following which it will prepare its final report in accordance with its constitutional and statutory mandate.
The Commission proposes the following 34 electoral districts for Alberta:
|Electoral District||Population||Deviation from Electoral Quota of 107,213|
|6||Calgary Forest Lawn||108,413||1.12%|
|10||Calgary Nose Hill||109,264||1.91%|
|12||Calgary Signal Hill||109,647||2.27%|
|13||Calgary Spy Hill||108,791||1.47%|
|18||Edmonton Mill Woods||106,103||-1.04%|
|29||Red Deer—Mountain View||108,465||1.17%|
|30||Red Deer—Wolf Creek||107,985||0.72%|
|31||Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan||111,541||4.04%|
Part V of this proposal contains detailed descriptions and maps for each proposed electoral district.
Alberta's two northern electoral districts, Peace River and Fort McMurray—Athabasca, comprise approximately one-half of the land mass of Alberta, with only 7.3% of the population. Peace River's population count has increased to 150,925 since the 2001 census. This represents a deviation of +40.8% from the electoral quota. Fort McMurray—Athabasca also grew from 88,882 in 2001 to 115,373 in 2011, resulting in a +7.6% deviation from the current electoral quota.
The 2002 commission suggested that the 2012 commission consider the possibility of creating a northern electoral district, running east–west across the province. The Commission finds that a northern electoral district is still not viable due to the continued absence of a northern east–west road transportation system across the province.
Considering the under-representation in the north, the Commission proposes to establish three northern electoral districts, namely: Grande Prairie, Peace River—Westlock and Fort McMurray—Athabasca. The proposed electoral district of Grande Prairie includes the City of Grande Prairie and surrounding area as described in Part V. The Commission views this as a cohesive district with common interests. The balance of the north will be divided in two north–south electoral districts.
The communities in the proposed electoral district of Peace River—Westlock, depicted in Part V, share agricultural, forestry, lumber and resource interests. Whitecourt, Barrhead and Westlock are all located on established transportation routes, serving as gateways to the north and as service providers. Notwithstanding its large geographic size, the shared interests and alternate transportation routes make this electoral district viable. Technological advancement, including all forms of social media, continues to ease communication challenges formerly experienced in large geographic areas. In addition, allowances for large geographic size and a supplement for remoteness (where applicable) in Schedule 3 of the Canada Elections Act further facilitates representation by members of Parliament. Thus, although the geographic size is large, the electoral district can be effectively represented. Geographically large electoral districts are not uncommon in Canada.
The redrawn electoral district of Fort McMurray—Athabasca remains similar to the existing electoral district and the Commission proposes retention of the name. This district is appropriate in both size and character, with future population growth anticipated.
In summary, the Commission has determined that it is now reasonably practical to divide the north into three electoral districts as depicted and described in Part V.
The population of Calgary has continued to increase over the past 10 years, growing from 878,866 in 2001 to 1,096,833 in 2011. Calgary's practice of annexation prior to development has historically resulted in an ability to create electoral districts lying totally within existing city limits. To respect the community of urban interests, the Commission proposes to continue the practice of maintaining electoral districts within the municipal boundaries of large cities where population permits.
The Commission proposes that two new electoral districts be created within Calgary's city limits – one in the south and one in the northwest. This increases Calgary's electoral districts from 8 to 10. The Commission finds the average deviation for the 10 new electoral districts of 2.30% above the electoral quota to be acceptable.
South Calgary is currently represented by two electoral districts: Calgary Southwest and Calgary Southeast. The Commission proposes three southern electoral districts to be called: Calgary Heritage, Calgary Midnapore and Calgary Shepard. All three electoral districts will extend to the southern city limits to share in anticipated future population growth.
The creation of a new southern electoral district results in substantial change to the existing electoral district of Calgary East as Calgary East's northern and southern boundaries move to the north. The Commission proposes that the electoral district to the north of Calgary Shepard be named Calgary Forest Lawn, and the electoral district directly north of Calgary Forest Lawn be called Calgary McCall. Calgary McCall extends to the northeastern city limits. (See Part V for details.)
The second new electoral district is to be created in northwest Calgary. The Commission proposes four electoral districts rather than the current three. The proposed new electoral districts will be Calgary Signal Hill, Calgary Confederation, Calgary Nose Hill and Calgary Spy Hill.
The existing Calgary Centre will extend further south and retain the name of Calgary Centre.
The census population count for the City of Edmonton grew from 666,104 in 2001 to 812,201 in 2011. Edmonton is surrounded by eight sizable communities: Beaumont, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, St. Albert and Stony Plain. A large portion of Edmonton's workforce resides in these surrounding communities, with the furthest community situated approximately 10 kilometres from the city limits.
The 2002 electoral boundaries commission for Alberta viewed the Edmonton region as a whole and created eight electoral districts. Only three of those districts were situated entirely within the city limits, while five formed hybrid districts, reaching out from the city into its surrounding communities and beyond. This was done, in part, to preserve electoral district parity between Edmonton and Calgary. Some recommendations received by the commission noted the effectiveness of hybrid districts, where the smaller communities share infrastructure and other common interests with the larger city to which they are geographically attached. Not all agreed.
The Commission recognizes hybrid electoral districts as a viable means of combining an urban area with those areas beyond its municipal boundaries. Hybrid electoral districts are sometimes necessary, or desirable, to bring population numbers in line with the provincial quota to avoid over- or under-representation, or to deal with natural topographical divisions. In addition, some heavily populated areas outside an urban centre may share more in common with the urban area than the rural area beyond.
The hub and spoke, or pie, approach to drawing hybrid districts utilized by the last commission is one means of blending suburban, urban and rural communities in close proximity. Commonalities between communities may exist, depending on the reach of the spoke. The donut approach is another means of dealing with large populations outside municipal boundaries. Following this approach, an electoral district is comprised of small communities surrounding a city, on the theory that the communities inside the donut share more commonalities with each other than with the city they surround.
The Commission accepts that boundaries can be drawn in many ways, but each case must be determined having regard to its particular facts, the statutory criteria, the population count and the available alternatives for creating a workable electoral district that can be effectively represented.
Considering the growth within Edmonton's municipal boundaries, the Commission proposes to create seven electoral districts within those boundaries. Considering population count and deviation from the electoral quota, as well as commonalities of interest, the Commission also proposes two hybrid electoral districts. The Commission viewed the North Saskatchewan River, which flows in a northeasterly direction through the centre of the City of Edmonton, as a significant natural geographical boundary and proposes that one of the hybrid districts be in the northwest and one in the south. It also proposes an electoral district adjacent to Edmonton, named Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
The seven electoral districts within the City of Edmonton are detailed in Part V of this proposal and will be named:
The current hybrid electoral district of Edmonton—St. Albert was found by the last commission to share common interests and concerns. The Commission agrees and is proposing that the hybrid electoral district continue as reconfigured and renamed. In view of St. Albert's increased 2011 census population count of 61,466, the Commission proposes the name of St. Albert—Edmonton.
A second hybrid electoral district of Edmonton—Wetaskiwin is proposed. This district will extend south from Anthony Henday Drive (to the east of the Queen Elizabeth II Highway) and south from Ellerslie Road (to the west of the Queen Elizabeth II Highway), and will include many communities as detailed in Part V. The community furthest from the city is situated approximately 60 kilometres from the city limits. In previous redistributions, various combinations of Edmonton, Beaumont, Devon, Leduc and Wetaskiwin have been used within electoral districts. The proposed electoral district of Edmonton—Wetaskiwin includes much of the current Wetaskiwin electoral district, and the Commission is satisfied that the communities in the proposed district share many commonalities of interest.
The Commission also proposes the new electoral district of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, located adjacent to Edmonton. This district includes Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan and all of Strathcona County. The proximity of communities and commonality of interests in this area provide an excellent basis for an electoral district.
Finally, the Commission proposes the electoral district of Sturgeon River, to consist of several communities and areas around the north and western limits of Edmonton. This electoral district would encompass the City of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Redwater, Sturgeon County, Parkland County and a portion of Lac Ste. Anne County. This district has an added benefit of keeping together several communities which share a Francophone history, including Morinville, Legal, Gibbons, Villeneuve, Rivière Qui Barre and Bon Accord.
The Rocky Mountains form the southwest boundary of Alberta, and the Commission proposes to retain the traditional division between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The creation of the third northern electoral district means that the southern and northern boundaries of Yellowhead have moved south. The Commission proposes a redrawn electoral district of Yellowhead, to encompass much of the existing district of Yellowhead plus parts of the current electoral districts of Wild Rose, Wetaskiwin and Red Deer. This proposed electoral district maintains its historical character, with many rural interests such as farming, oil and gas, pulp and paper, forestry and tourism.
The population count of the existing Wild Rose electoral district has increased, with continuing and anticipated future growth in Airdrie, Cochrane, Canmore and surrounding communities. The Commission proposes to decrease the geographic size of this electoral district. The character of the proposed district in terms of geography, history and communities of interest and identity are appropriate, and the Commission proposes that the electoral district, as reconfigured, be named Banff—Airdrie.
The three electoral districts of Macleod, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat currently share Alberta's southern boundary. Having regard to population increases in the south, particularly in Chestermere, Lethbridge, Okotoks and Strathmore, the Commission proposes the creation of a new electoral district in the southern region of the province. It proposes the following four electoral districts in southern Alberta:
See Part V of this proposal for details.
Two rural electoral districts are proposed along Alberta's eastern border between the electoral districts of Medicine Hat and Fort McMurray—Athabasca, namely: Lakeland and Battle River. Although the boundaries and names have changed, both districts maintain their rural character and communities. The districts share many common interests and commerce. To avoid dividing communities of interest by following highways as boundaries, the Commission has endeavoured to follow county boundaries where reasonably possible. As a result, the east–west boundary dividing Lakeland and Battle River runs along the county boundaries between highways 14 and 16 for the most part (see Part V).
Large population increases in Red Deer and the transportation corridor between Edmonton and Calgary have occurred over the past 10 years. Red Deer's population count increased from 67,707 to 90,564. The Commission recommends that two electoral districts be created around the Queen Elizabeth II Highway between the southern border of the proposed district of Edmonton—Wetaskiwin and the northern border of the proposed district of Banff—Airdrie.
The Commission considered two viable alternatives for creating these electoral districts. First, it considered a new electoral district of Red Deer, with a second electoral district forming a donut around that Red Deer electoral district. Second, it considered dividing Red Deer and creating two hybrid districts. One hybrid would include north Red Deer and extend to the southern boundary of Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, and the second hybrid would contain south Red Deer and extend to the northern boundary of Banff—Airdrie.
The Commission considers both alternatives viable, but opts for the second. The interests of the City of Red Deer are inextricably intertwined with those of the surrounding communities in terms of trade, industry, recreation, health and others. Considering shape, proximity and shared interests, the Commission views the hybrid districts as preferable and proposes to divide Red Deer by an east–west line (primarily along the Red Deer River and Ross Street) to create two hybrid electoral districts as depicted in Part V of this proposal. The proposed names are:
The Commission thought it important that the Hobbema reserves of Samson, Ermineskin, Louis Bull and Montana be kept together, notwithstanding that they are currently in different counties. Accordingly, they are all contained in the electoral district of Red Deer—Wolf Creek.
The electoral district landscape of Alberta has changed to accommodate six new electoral districts as well as population shifts and changes since the 2001 census.
All existing electoral districts have changed – some significantly. Calgary and Edmonton have 52.37% of the 2011 census population count. Seventeen of the 34 proposed electoral districts are within the municipal boundaries of Calgary or Edmonton.
The Commission proposes one new electoral district in northern Alberta, two new electoral districts in and around the City of Edmonton, two new electoral districts within the City of Calgary and one new electoral district in southern Alberta.
The Commission is satisfied that all electoral districts can be effectively represented.