By Tim Kalinowski
Southern Alberta Newspapers — Medicine Hat
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes is sounding alarm bells about the Alberta Electoral Boundary review process.
Barnes says the plan proposed by the Electoral Boundaries Commission would have Medicine Hat reduced down to one seat in the legislature, create one of the biggest constituencies in the province encompassing most of south east Alberta, and, more broadly, a loss of three rural seats in Alberta near Edmonton, Calgary and Airdrie.
“I am extremely disappointed,” says Barnes, “And I am wanting to spread the word as much as I can to Cypress-Medicine Hatters and Medicine Hatters.”
The proposal would get rid of Cypress-Medicine Hat as a constituency and create two new ones in its place: Brooks-Cypress, which would include South Ridge, Desert Blume and Redcliff, and the Taber-Vulcan, which would now include Veinerville and Dunmore. Ross Glen would be put into the Medicine Hat constituency.
“What they are proposing is Cypress-Medicine Hat becoming Brooks-Cypress, and the Cypress Hills wouldn’t even be in Brooks-Cypress,” says Barnes. “The southern part of Cypress County and 40 Mile County are being added to Little Bow and renamed Taber-Vulcan. The northern end of this constituency is going to be 20 minutes from Calgary, and it will extend south to the border to become one of the biggest constituencies in the whole province.”
One of the main critiques to come out of the Electoral Boundaries Commission open house in Medicine Hat in January was any change in the boundaries should not increase the local ridings in size, due to the difficulties of an MLA representing such a broad, geographical area.
“They did not listen,” says Barnes. “To make Taber-Vulcan so huge will make it hard to have ideas and voices heard.”
Barnes says the commission has asked for more input on these proposed boundary changes. Local citizens have until July 8 to present their feedback.
“I would ask those concerned to go online to Elections Alberta, and there are three things they need to say … The first thing is don’t take three seats out of rural Alberta, the second thing is leave Cypress-Medicine Hat the way it was, and the third thing is ensure the City of Medicine Hat has two constituencies with its name in it.”
Barnes says if the changes go through as proposed, he would be forced to choose one of the two new ridings to represent.
“I am so grateful to be able to represent Cypress-Medicine Hat. It would be a very hard decision for me to decide where I would run in the future,” admits Barnes.