The public has until the end of the month to comment on proposed changes to federal constituency boundaries that would split Cochrane from Airdrie and Banff from Canmore.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta has proposed a new electoral map that calls for the creation of Canmore-Cochrane-Olds and Airdrie-Chestermere ridings and shifts Banff into a riding that stretches to Grande Cache, some 500 km northwest in the Eastern Slopes.
Concern has been expressed by several organizations and individuals in the current Banff-Airdrie constituency about the changes proposed, including its MP Blake Richards.
In his extensive presentation to the boundaries commission, the Banff-Airdire MP has proposed three possible ways to keep the closely-knit communities together in the same constituency while meeting the population requirements.
Richards calls for the creation of the Banff - Rocky Mountain View constituency and Airdrie - Cochrane - Rockyview and presented three possible options, with slight variations, including the one above.
Richards isn't the only one supporting the need for Airdrie and Cochrane to remain in the same constituency. The Town of Cochrane, City of Airdrie as well as their respective chambers of commerce and several major sports associations have requested the same.
Richards made his submission and participated in several hearings, including the one in Cochrane on Sept. 22.
"I put together a map to show how they can make the constituency work so that Airdrie and Cochrane can be together, Canmore and Banff can still be together. I gave them the legal descriptions of these ridings, did all the population numbers, and it all worked perfectly so that it's all within what they're looking for."
The commission noted there may be other things that come into play elsewhere in the province to take into account but understood the stance being taken by many.
"They also seem to understand what we were saying about the need for the communities to be together, whether it be Airdrie and Cochrane and whether it be Banff and Canmore. They did acknowledge they'd heard that from several people, and they did acknowledge they did understand the concerns, so that's got to be a good sign," says Richards.
"I've had various groups in Airdrie and Cochrane tell me they've written in and told the commission these things as well."
That includes the Cochrane Chamber of Commerce, which also appeared at the Cochrane hearing and made a submission similar to that of Richards.
Richards encourages those who feel the same way to make submissions by the end of the month.
Information on how to make a submission is available here.