The Highwood NDP saw a surge in membership over the last few months, with a 600 per cent increase from December to May.

They had 132 registered members on December 31, 2023, and now have 936 as of the latest count.

Sheila Stacey, president of the Highwood NDP Constituency Association, attributes their growth to a few factors.

For one, the current NDP leadership race seems to have created some fervour and reignited interest in the party across Alberta.

Highwood was only one of many constituencies to see an increase in membership, with the party having grown to 85,144 members across the province.

"It's clear that Albertans are not finding exactly what they're looking for in other parties and they see the Alberta NDP as a viable and reliable option and something they're interested in checking out and getting involved with. It's pretty exciting for us, it does speak to the state of what's going on in Alberta," says Stacey.

That's not to say the leadership race is the sole contributor to the Highwood riding's membership increase.

Stacey says support has been growing steadily for a while now, recalling renewed vigour from the Foothills NDP voters during the previous provincial election.

"We're quite a young constituency association. Originally formed with Wilson Southam in 2020... and during the (2023) election we did see quite a bit of enthusiasm. We ran a campaign for only a month and we took just about 30 per cent of the Highwood vote. A think that speaks to an appetite for progressive candidates in the Highwood for sure."

She also credits the constituency association's volunteers, who have been maintaining an active presence on social media and holding events surrounding the leadership race.

For Stacey, this kind of growth in a riding like Highwood shows a pretty significant step for Alberta's current opposition party.

"We call it 'rurban' here in Highwood because we're a mix of small urban communities and rural folks. We're quite an interesting mix of dynamics and demographics here in Highwood... I think sometimes those of us living rurally or semi-rurally, we automatically assume that most folks are conservative. I think people, overall, are more progressive than sometimes we give them credit for. It also speaks to the potential here in Highwood of where we go with our policy and politics. There's a lot of potential and people want to be heard."