As the SCRD Board dashed through three readings of its updated elections procedure bylaw at its May 26 meeting, Area E Director Donna McMahon voiced what appeared to be “an elephant in the room” statement for her fellow rural area directors: what happens if no candidates put their name forward for election.
Corporate officer, Sherry Reid explained that if no candidates step forward for election as a regional district area director, first the nomination period would be extended. If an extension fails to generate a candidate, Reid said the province would “step in." According to the Local Government Act (LGA), first the SCRD would be asked to appoint a director for the area. If that did not happen within 30 days of the first meeting of the newly elected board, the province would make the appointment.
Other changes included in the draft election bylaw update include the provisions for any elector to apply to vote by mail. In previous elections, only electors who would be off-Coast or physically unable to attend a voting place were allowed to request a mail-in ballot. The province adjusted those provisions in changes to the LGA since the last local government voting opportunity in 2018.
Reid noted that the timelines surrounding the finalization of candidates, printing of ballots, provision of mail-out ballots to those who want them, return of those ballots and the tabulation of votes cast by both mail and in-person voting are “very tight." She said that information provided with mail-in ballot packages will provide recommendations on the latest date that a voter should attempt to return their ballot by mail. Such ballots can also be returned in person to the SCRD’s office before the close of voting period.
Another change in the 2022 voting procedures will see the SCRD using automated vote tabulation machines. Those machines have been used in past Coast local government elections in Sechelt and Gibsons.
“Does that mean we will get super fast results?” McMahon asked, to which Reid replied “that’s the plan.”
2022 local government election day on the Sunshine Coast is Oct. 15.
BC Ferries “communications breakdown”
Area B Director and local Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) representative Lori Pratt voiced ongoing frustration with what she cited as a lack of discussion or prior notice to the committee about continued Route 3 (Horseshoe Bay-Langdale) ferry schedule adjustments. During her director’s report, Pratt lamented that the committee’s views are “falling on deaf ears,” and that the corporation appears to make and publicly announce decisions related to ferry service without the benefit of the group's input. She said that the southern Sunshine Coast FAC has invited its counterpart on the northern section of the Coast to meetings so that concerns related to how Routes 3 and 7 (Earls Cove-Saltery Bay) connect can be discussed.