Cochrane and Airdrie will be separated and neighbouring Banff and Canmore would no longer be in the same riding if proposed changes to federal electoral boundaries are implemented.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta has proposed a new electoral map for consideration at public hearings this September that calls for the creation of Canmore-Cochrane-Olds and Airdrie-Chestermere ridings and shifts Banff in a riding that stretches to Grande Cache in the northern Eastern Slopes.

Cochrane would be in a riding that includes the Stoney Nakoda Nation, Canmore, Carstairs, Crossfield, Didsbury, Olds, Sundre, Cremona, the summer villages of Ghost Lake and Waiparous, Bighorn County, and areas in both Rocky View County and the Kananaskis Improvement District.

The City of Airdrie would be the anchor of a riding that includes Chestermere, Irricana, and Beiseker.

Banff would become part of an update to the Yellowhead riding that would become the third-largest riding in the province. Grande Cache is about 500 km northwest of Banff and the proposed constituency's eastern extremity is about 400 km from Banff. The new version of Yellowhead offers shades of the former milk-run federal Rocky Mountain riding which ran from Grande Cache in the north to the southern Eastern Slopes until abolished in 1976.

If adopted, the current Banff-Airdrie constituency of Conservative Blake Richards would be splintered into three different ridings.

Richards says he had anticipated a change due to rapid population growth but believes the proposed boundaries should be adjusted so that Cochrane and Airdrie are together, and Banff and Canmore are in the same riding.

"I really think it's a perfect fit for Airdrie and Cochrane to be together," says Richards. "They've split the two of those into different ridings when they don't really need to. There's certainly a way for them to split it properly and have Airdrie and Cochrane be a riding, which also mirrors what is done with the provincial ridings."

By putting Cochrane and Airdrie together, he believes it would enable the commission to do the same with Banff and Canmore.

"I think there's an easy fix for them that would certainly far improve the way they split up this riding."

Richards believes he's not the only one who will be pressing for changes during the public hearings.

The public hearing in Cochrane is on Sept. 22 and in Airdrie on Sept. 20. Banff and Canmore will both get their say on Sept. 23. 

Richards believes the commission is willing to listen to reasonable arguments.

"To split one riding off into three different parts is a pretty big change for a lot of people, so let's minimize that change and make it more logical. I think that's a reasonable argument, and I think the commission will listen to reasonable arguments."

Richards has seen boundary changes before. He was first elected in the much larger Wild Rose riding in 2008.

When the Banff-Airdrie riding was created in 2015, its northern regions were split between the Red Deer-Mountainview and Yellowhead ridings. Richards says it seemed to be a logical change that time around, but was still difficult.

"This process will be difficult for me, too, to have an area that you've represented, people you've built relationships with, friendships that you've made, all being changing from underneath you. That will happen this time, too, but if they're going to do it, I just hope they do it in a logical kind of way."

Every 10 years, federal election boundaries are reviewed and adjusted to reflect population shifts and changes.

An independent, three-person commission is created in each province. Justice J.D. Bruce McDonald, of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, was named the chair for Alberta. The other members are Dr. Donald Barry of Calgary, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Calgary; and Donna R. Wilson, of Edmonton, an election specialist, and a former federal returning officer.

Alberta's population grew by 617,378 people to 4,262,635 between the 2011 and the 2021 censuses. That has resulted in three new ridings being created and the province will have 37 seats in the House of Commons after the next federal election.

Based on 37 seats, the electoral quota for each Alberta electoral district is 115,206


federal boundariesLeft, the proposed Airdrie-Chestermere riding, right, the proposed new Yellowhead riding.
Porposed federal ridingsHow Alberta would with the new proposed federal constituency boundaries.