NDP wins highly contested Banff-Kananaskis riding
The United Conservative Party has had a lot of support historically in rural Alberta ridings, but the highly contested seat of Banff-Kananaskis has fallen out of their grasp.
CTV News projected an NDP victory on election night with Sarah Elmeligi taking the constituency from Miranda Rosin.
The unofficial results from Elections Alberta, with 26 out of 26 polls reporting, had Elmeligi with 11,487 votes, while Rosin has 11,288 – a difference of just 199 votes.
NDP supporters at the Canmore Miners’ Union Hall were cheering, dancing, and hugging Elmeligi as she addressed the crowd.
"It's surreal, this is something I've been working very hard for, for over a year," said Elmeligi.
"It feels really nice to know that all the hard work has led to the outcome that we were all hoping for. I'm so fortunate to have been surrounded by an incredibly amazing team."
Elmeligi added that despite a UCP majority election victory, she will make the voice of her constituents heard in the legislature.
"I want to ensure all our residents here have access to health care when they need it. Affordability is also a very big issue here, especially here in the western part of the riding in Canmore and Banff," she said.
"A big focus for me as well is actually looking at the eastern part of the riding, getting to know them better and understand their needs. I know there are issues with recreational, tourism and land use planning so I look forward to engaging with all our consituents."
The voting area located west of Calgary includes the large communities of Banff and Canmore and contains the entirety of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country.
The seat was held previously by the UCP's Miranda Rosin, who won in 2019 with just 51 per cent of the vote.
The Banff-Kananaskis riding was created in 2017 when Cochrane moved into a new riding with Airdrie, but the Conservatives have historically dominated the area having only lost the seat once before in 2015.
Some of the biggest issues on Rosin's radar according to her campaign included improvements to affordability, timely access to EMS and hospitals, as well as the continued diversification of the economy.
Health care was also a major concern for Elmeligi, who echoed concerns of ambulances being able to respond to emergency situations in the area.
Her focus as an environmental scientist also includes the protection of the eastern slopes of the Rockies from future coal mining.
Both candidates had opposing views on the Kananaskis Conservation pass as well, with Elmeligi looking to remove the pass implemented by the UCP, which currently charges for entry into the provincial park.
Rosin has defended the pass, noting that it wouldn't be right for others in the province who don't live in the Kananaskis area to have to have to pay extra taxes to support the park.
Voters who spoke with CTV News prior to polls closing on Monday highlighted a number of contested issues, with affordability at the top of most people's minds.
"I'd like to see more protected areas around town, with the developments that keep popping up in Canmore it's really a pressing issue as well as affordable housing," said Canmore resident Alexandre Dupuis.
Others, like local teacher Emily Parkin, noted she wants whoever takes control of the provincial government to focus on education.
"Four years ago, teachers were told this and it was actually an election promise that pensions wouldn't be touched and I don't think that was upheld," she said.
The need for better health-care supports was also highlighted by Canmore resident Rachael Hanakowski who says she feels like the current system is falling apart.
"The extended wait times in the emergency departments are ridiculous and it really puts a strain on the health-care system."