By Cole Parkinson
While not coming in the next few weeks, Municipal District of Taber divisions may soon look different.
After previous inquiries from Coun. Leavitt Howg, administration developed a new division map balancing population in the north and south, and presented it to council during their regular council meeting on Jan. 8.
According to Coun. Howg, the main driving force behind exploring new division layouts is because of the variance in population, especially the northern region of the M.D.
“It’s by population because Jen (Crowson, Division 5) is so low, under 700,” he explained to council.
In the 2016 Municipal Census, M.D. population was 7,173 as of April 15, 2016, with Grassy Lake at 815, Hays at 163, Enchant at 259, Johnson’s Addition at 130 and Purple Springs at 44. Current population data shows Division 1 at 1,144, Division 2 at 1,189, Division 3 at 1,502, Division 4 at 930, Division 5 at 674, Division 6 at 889 and Division 7 at 845.
With the proposed change, populations remain the same in the south divisions but sees Division 5 at 809, Division 6 at 813 and Division 7 at 786.
“To me, it is a risk because then we better say Grassy Lake gets their own councillor. We have to look at it as a whole. When we start moving numbers around, we have to make sure why we are doing it and how it affects the M.D. as a whole,” said Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.
Other councillors also expressed hesitation in making changes to the current division map.
“If it is all about equalizing population, it can be done but it changes things a lot,” stated Coun. John Turcato. “What are we trying to accomplish? What are we basing it on?”
While the Old Man River was distinguished as a divide between the north and south, council explored not using it as prominently when looking at divisions as Coun. Brian Brewin asked if it necessarily needed to be a boundary.
“The river doesn’t truly divide it as I have some north of the river, on the west side of the municipality,” added Miyanaga, though she did point out it was hard to overlook it as a divider. “We can say we’d like to not have the divide between the north and south but it is a natural boundary.”
Council expressed wanting to see more scenarios before deciding if they wanted to move ahead.
A motion was made to have director of GIS and IT Bryce Surina come back with some more scenarios based on balancing population north and south. The motion was carried with the lone opposing vote coming from Miyanaga.