The Saskatchewan Provincial Constituency Boundary Commission did not meet with much resistance to its proposed new electoral boundaries in Yorkton Monday.
The Commission has proposed that Yorkton become an urban-only constituency bounded on the north by Grain Millers Drive, on the west by Government Road, on the south by Queen Street and on the east by Range Road 40 (plus a couple of quarter sections to the west of that).
Even the handful of people who made presentations at the local hearing—which included Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit, Yorkton Mayor James Wilson—were more or less happy with the Commission proposal requesting tweaks rather than radical modifications.
Ottenbreit and Wilson felt that the Commission should be aware of annexations the City has undertaken since the original boundaries proposal was written. They also voiced the concerns of certain constituents who live just outside the city limit, but who, for all intents and purposes, consider themselves Yorkton residents.
“I wanted to make sure [the Commission] had all their information,” Ottenbreit said. “If there’s any changes that do come about from what they have proposed, that’ll be done with the information that we were able to present today from a city perspective, from a regional park and residents south of Yorkton perspective, as well as, my own perspective having dealt with these constituents over the last five years.”
Lawrence Wegner, chair of the York Lake Regional Park Authority, also advocated on behalf of the residents of York Lake, Flamingo Trailer Court and Maple Grove Estates.
“At a time when voter turnout is at all time lows at every level of government, I feel this commission, when establishing boundaries should take into consideration the riding that people feel part of and that impact their day-to-day living,” he said. “If our residents work and play and consider themselves part of Yorkton, but are expected to vote in a riding that they don’t consider [themselves] to be a part of, some will just not vote, especially if it is a major inconvenience to do so.”
Hudson Bay Mayor Elvina Rumak made the trek down from her constituency of Carrot River Valley to advocate on behalf of the communities of Mistatim and Prairie River.
“I was happy with the way the boundary was proposed for the Hudson Bay area because it was extended further south so it wasn’t dividing our residents into two areas,” she said. “But Prairie River and Mistatim, they put them into the Kelvington Wadena constituency and they would like to remain with the Carrot River constituency because all their business and dealings seem to be with the north.”
Rumak also suggested to the commissioners that they should offer some kind of compensation to presenters who have to travel long distances to make their voices heard.
Commission Deputy Chair Stuart Pollon told Yorkton This Week, the members were amenable to the suggested tweaks providing the math works out.
“We will have to verify the population numbers,” he said. “That’s the key part that drives this. We are required by legislation to be as close to the constituency population quotient as possible, which is 3,059 (18 years and older). We will consider that specific aspect of the request against that requirement and return what modifications, if any, we can make.”