Wolseley: Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood

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The Worst NeighbourhoodLast week, the Federal riding redistribution commission made their preliminary report and suggested new Federal ridings for Saskatchewan. While these new riding divisions are a marked improvement over the ridings that we currently have, which throw generally progressive urban voters together with their more conservative rural cousins, one major oversight appears to have been made with the riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle.

While Regina will now have two nearly-exclusive urban ridings if the new plans are approved, inner-city North Central (which was controversially named “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood” by Maclean’s in 2007) will still be part of a hybrid urban-rural riding which includes the heart of North Central and also rural towns like Elfros and Wolseley.

Having worked in North Central for over a year, and having visited Wolseley several times over the course of the same period, I can safely say that the two places share very little in common. While North Central is nowhere near as bad as people like to claim it is (despite having an HIV epidemic and a relatively high crime rate), it is undoubtedly a neighbourhood filled with very unique problems that need to be addressed, and lumping the concerns of these people in with the totally different concerns of a farmer near Dysart or a resident at the Wolseley care home is not only unfair to the people of North Central, it’s unfair to the rural voters as well.

Can you really claim that one MP will be able to take on the immense task of representing some of Canada’s most desperate citizens while simultaneously satisfying the wants of their rural constituents? So far, the hybrid ridings which tend to elect Conservative MPs would suggest the answer is a firm “no”. It was bad enough that we lumped South Regina in with the rural population of Palliser. It’s a whole different thing to do that to even more socio-economically diverse people.

The new ridings are a vast improvement over what we have now. But maybe not for the people that need it most.

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