Consultant's report on Electoral boundaries available

As an update to our last email on the County’s initiative to revise Rocky View’s electoral division boundaries, we wanted to let people know that the County has posted the project’s consultants’ report on its website. You can access the report here.

At the September 1st council meeting, Councillor Wright asked why the report had not been released. Administration’s response was that they were following the Terms of Reference for the project which stated that the consultants’ final report would be presented at a public council meeting. Based on that wording, Administration felt that the report should not be released to the public until the October 27th meeting. In response to this explanation, Councillor Wright made a motion to have the report released. Councillor Henn was the only one who voted against this motion.

We find it interesting that Administration used technicalities in the Terms of Reference as their reason to not release the report at the same time as they posted the bylaw that will implement the proposed new electoral divisions. At the same time, they seem less concerned that they did not follow substantive portions of the Terms of Reference. Specifically, the Terms of Reference required the consultants to present three electoral division options at a public council meeting before they presented their recommended option at a second public council meeting. This was never done.

Given the Terms of Reference, we had anticipated that the consultants’ report would identify three options and present the rationale for their recommendation of the 7-division option presented in the bylaw. Unfortunately, it does not do this. The report only outlines the recommended 7-division option with no explanation for why it was chosen over possible 9-divison or other 7-divison options.

The consultants’ explanation for the configuration of the proposed electoral divisions is that the divisions radiate out from Calgary, giving each division a mix of residential and rural and a mix of faster and slower growing areas. This sounds like a reasonably plausible rationale. However, to make this approach work, the consultants had to create one notable exception – a stand-alone, totally urban division for Langdon.

In the Council discussion on September 1st, Deputy Reeve Schule expressed concerns with Langdon as a stand-alone division. However, others reminded him that they should accept the consultants’ recommendation as presented to avoid any perception of gerrymandering by Council.

To complicate matters, CAO Hoggan reminded Council that their specialized municipality application required the population in each of the County’s electoral divisions to be within the generally accepted +/- 25% deviation. Hoggan indicated that the application could not proceed without council adopting revised electoral boundaries with more balanced populations.

From their report, the consultants appear to have proposed electoral divisions that they believe will work for the next three elections. Given that no one can really predict how Rocky View will emerge from the economic meltdown caused by the double whammy of collapsing oil prices and Covid-19, it might have been better to focus on electoral divisions for the upcoming October 2021 election and then review them again later, if necessary.

The RVC website indicates that comments and/or questions about the consultants’ report should be sent to the councillors. Council will be making its decision on the proposed electoral divisions at its October 27th meeting. We will keep everyone posted on the issue.

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