Part II Amendments to the Initial Report (June 28, 2013) – Saskatchewan – Objections

Objections

The Standing Committee referred to the Commission objections that proposed the transfer of the following communities to the electoral districts indicated.

1.   The Town of Shellbrook, from the electoral district of Prince Albert to the electoral district of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River

The rationale for the objection was to harmonize the Rural Municipality of Shellbrook and Town of Shellbrook by placing them in the same electoral district. The Commission had received a request from residents of the Meadow Lake area of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River to move the Town of Shellbrook into their riding for that reason. The Commission had not acceded to this request in its initial public proposal and did not receive any objection from residents of Shellbrook.

The Commission was and still is of the opinion that the Town of Shellbrook is more properly aligned with interests in the riding of Prince Albert.

2.   The Town of Choiceland, the villages of Love, Whitefox and Smeaton, and surrounding areas, from the electoral district of Prince Albert back to the electoral district of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River

The rationale for the objection was that the communities had been previously located in the electoral district of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River and that the Commission had offered no reasons to transfer them to the electoral district of Prince Albert.

Prior to the publication of the Commission's proposal, a number of residents from the affected area submitted to the Commission that their community of interest lay with Prince Albert and not with Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. These residents put forward a strong argument, accepted by the Commission, that their communities were aligned with the agricultural interests of the Prince Albert district and not the forestry and northern issues of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. They argued that their transportation and service connections were with the Town of Nipawin and City of Prince Albert, both contained within the Prince Albert riding. The Commission's proposal, as a consequence of these representations, moved the communities to the Prince Albert riding. The objections received to this transfer came primarily from residents of the Meadow Lake area of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.

The Commission does not agree with this request to change the boundaries.

3.   The communities of Batoche, Domremy and St. Louis, and surrounding areas, from the electoral district of Humboldt—Warman—Martensville—Rosetown to the electoral district of Prince Albert

The rationale for the objection was twofold: first, residents of these communities work in and receive their public services from within the electoral district of Prince Albert; second, these communities have a strong Francophone presence, and their community of interest would be strengthened by joining them with the Francophone communities in the electoral district of Prince Albert. The Commission accepts this rationale and agrees that these areas are more closely aligned with the Prince Albert district.

The Commission has redrawn the boundaries of the Prince Albert riding to correspond with this request.

4.   The communities of St. Brieux and Naicam, and surrounding areas, from the electoral district of Yorkton—Melville to the electoral district of Prince Albert

The rationale for the objection was that residents of these communities work in and receive their public services from within the electoral district of Prince Albert. It is where they go for entertainment, sports and leisure. The Commission does not find that a strong community of interest as described exists with the Prince Albert riding. If anything, these communities are more connected to the riding of Humboldt—Warman—Martensville—Rosetown than they are to Prince Albert. The Commission is also of the opinion that their inclusion in the Yorkton—Melville riding continues to be appropriate from the perspectives of both population equality and community of interest.

The Commission does not agree with this request for change.

5.   The area known as Cathedral, from the electoral district of Regina—Lewvan to the electoral district of Regina—Qu'Appelle

The rationale for the objection was to better balance the expected population growth in the Regina ridings.

The Commission generally was reluctant to adopt an approach that involved the prediction of population trends within a particular riding. Predictions of this nature are not precise. The Commission, in its initial deliberations, recognized the already significant expansion in Regina's northeast (in Regina—Qu'Appelle) and in its southwest (in Regina—Lewvan). This is consistent with growth projections from the City of Regina. The Commission is not comfortable with the expectation stated in the objection that the population of Regina—Lewvan could eventually be as much as 25,000 greater than the other two Regina ridings. The Commission is also of the opinion that the current larger population of Regina—Lewvan compared to Regina—Qu'Appelle is appropriate, given that the latter riding includes a large rural area.

The Commission placed considerable significance on the notion that Regina's Cathedral area is in essence urban. Given the Commission's decision to create solely urban ridings, this area of Regina should properly remain within Regina—Lewvan rather than be shifted into a mixed rural-urban riding.

The Commission does not agree with this request for change.

6.   The area of Saskatoon east of Idylwyld Drive, south of 33rd Street and west of the South Saskatchewan River, from Saskatoon West to Saskatoon—University

The rationale for the objection was to maintain one electoral district in the downtown core of Saskatoon, given that the river is not a natural barrier in this area of the city. This request is considered in conjunction with objection no. 7.

7.   The community of Silverwood Heights, from Saskatoon—University to Saskatoon West

The rationale for the objection was that Silverwood Heights has more in common with the communities on the west side of Saskatoon. That is where, it was said, the residents predominantly work, play and do their shopping. In essence, objections no. 6 and 7 switch two neighbourhoods between Saskatoon—University and Saskatoon West.

It should be noted that the Commission's initial public proposal had included Silverwood Heights in Saskatoon West, and a portion of the area described in objection no. 6 was proposed for Saskatoon—University. The Commission was convinced from presentations made at the public hearings that the communities of interest were better grouped by moving Silverwood Heights to Saskatoon—University and that portion of Saskatoon—University south of 33rd Street West into Saskatoon West. The Commission respects the opinions of the members of Parliament in these two ridings, but the strength of the argument put forward at the public hearings convinces the Commission that its reconfiguration of electoral districts more accurately respects the communities of interest.

The Commission is of the view that the demographics of the Silverwood Heights community more closely align with the northern part of Saskatoon—University. The same reasoning applies to the area south of 33rd Street in Saskatoon West.

The Commission does not agree with the requests for change identified in objections no. 6 and 7.

8.   The portion of the electoral district of Humboldt—Martensville—Warman—Rosetown lying east of Saskatoon, to the electoral district of Saskatoon—University

The rationale for the objection was that the residents of this rural and acreage area all live, work and obtain their utilities from Saskatoon. It is accepted that the majority of the people in this area are employed in Saskatoon. Their utilities, including rural water, are provided primarily through Crown corporations.

The Commission, as a general principle, considered it important to create solely urban ridings to the extent possible within Regina's and Saskatoon's municipal boundaries. The Commission recognizes that people from the rural and acreage areas draw on the strengths of the city for their employment, sporting and cultural activities. However, the acreage and rural residents do not contribute to city taxes that fund those activities. The Commission heard strong public representation that rural and acreage dwellers enjoy the benefits of city amenities but share none of the city problems involving crime, infrastructure and growth.

The argument for including this area east of Saskatoon in an urban riding would apply to all areas surrounding the cities of Regina and Saskatoon. It has not been accepted as a matter of principle.

The Commission does not agree with this request for change.

9.   An area including the Rural Municipality of Elmsthorpe, the Village of Avonlea, and parts of the Rural Municipality of Terrell and of the Piapot Cree First Nation, from the electoral district of Souris—Moose Mountain to the electoral district of Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan

The rationale for the objection was that the changes would better connect the communities of interest that now exist.

The Commission acknowledges that the Village of Avonlea and its sparse rural population, as described in the objection, are much more closely aligned with the community of Moose Jaw than with the balance of the Souris—Moose Mountain district. The Commission initially placed this area in Souris—Moose Mountain as part of its aim toward population equality. However, the Commission is now convinced that a transfer of this area to align with its community of interest would not unduly affect the goal of population equality.

The Commission agrees with this objection and has redrawn the boundaries of the two affected districts accordingly.



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