Victoria council to receive by-election report in September
As Elections BC prepares for a snap provincial election that could be called at any time, City of Victoria spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer says a staff report expected to come before council in September will propose possible dates and detail the process for a re-scheduled municipal by-election.
The by-election to fill the council seat vacated by Laurel Collins after her election to Member of Parliament last October had originally been scheduled for April 4, but was cancelled by order of Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 29, Minister Robinson issued guidance for local governments as they plan how to safely hold deferred by-elections and referenda.
According to Elections BC, any by-elections that were cancelled due to the pandemic and then rescheduled will be considered entirely new campaigns.
This means campaigns will restart from zero in terms of spending, fundraising and disclosure.
For by-elections that were cancelled, the appointment of Chief Election Officer was rescinded and the whole process would have to start all over again.
Once a Chief Election Officer has been appointed, provincial law says a by-election must be held within 80 days.
Any funds in excess of 500 dollars that were raised during the now-cancelled campaign period are to be held in trust by the local government and then returned to the candidate once the individual has officially declared.
Furthermore, any materials from any previous election, including those from a cancelled election, that are used in a new election must be disclosed at their fair market value.
In addition to Victoria, four other by-elections and a referendum were cancelled my Minister Robinson in March. There is a total of fifteen by-elections and five referenda that have been cancelled, postponed or are otherwise yet-to-be-held, many due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much like in Victoria, the City of Rossland had scheduled an April 4 by-election to fill the council seat vacated by Scott Forsyth. Officials there say the City intends to hold a by-election by the end of the year with further details expected in September.
The Village of Lytton had a by-election originally scheduled for April 25. No word yet as to which seat is vacant or which stage the Village is presently in.
SD10, the Arrow Lakes School District, had scheduled a by-election for May 10 to fill a trustee position vacated by Melissa Teindl in 2019. This by-election will now take place Saturday, September 12.
The City of Dawson Creek’s by-election from May 23 to fill a council seat vacated by Blair Lekstrom who resigned to become the City's Chief Administrative Officer, will now take place Saturday, October 17.
Kamloops had a referendum planned for April 4 to measure public support for funding up to $45 million of the construction cost of Kamloops Centre for the Arts. A new date has yet-to-be set.
Jurisdictions across British Columbia have had vacancies since the pandemic began and have held off on scheduling by-elections, or have local referenda pending.
The City of Revelstoke needs to fill a council seat vacated by Steven Cross on January 21. The City’s CAO says they’re currently working with the Province to create a plan for safely conducting a by-election and will bring forward a report to Council in September to announce the Chief Elections Officer and the Deputy.
The Village of Sayward needs to fill both a council seat and the Mayor's chair. Mayor John MacDonald resigned March 13. Councillor Joyce Ellis, who served as Acting Mayor following MacDonald’s resignation, resigned herself six days later on March 19. On August 17, an official with the Village of Sayward confirmed an elections officer had been hired and they await a council resolution to officially announce the hiring and to set the date of the election.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District needs to fill the seat of Director for Electoral Area H (North Oyster/Diamond) vacated by Mary Marcotte who resigned March 6. The CVRD says it is reviewing options and the recently released provincial guidelines and expects more information to become available in the near future.
SD78, the Fraser Cascade School District has a vacant trustee position to fill following the death of John Koopman on May 6. The District’s Secretary-Treasurer says the by-election is currently on hold and no date has been determined yet.
In Burnaby, there are two council seats to fill after councilors Nick Volkow and Paul McDonell died on June 20 and July 12, respectively.
On Haida Gwaii, The Village of Queen Charlotte has to fill two council seats vacated by Richard Decembrini and Devin Rachar following their resignations on July 6 and July 20, respectively.
A third municipal vacancy on Haida Gwaii, this one in the Village of Port Clements where they need to fill a council seat vacated by Teri Kish following her resignation on July 13. The Village’s CAO says a by-election is to be held this fall and that they are currently in the process of appointing a Chief Election Officer.
The Town of Lake Cowichan needs to fill the Mayor's chair following Rod Peters' resignation on July 28.
The City of Greenwood also has an empty Mayor’s chair following Ed Smith's resignation in January. A by-election there has been scheduled for October 10.
In Fort St. James, a by-election has been scheduled for Saturday, September 26, to fill the seat vacated by former mayor Bev Playfair on March 10.
The Municipality of Bowen Island has a referendum scheduled for Saturday, September 12, that will seek authorization of a roughly 4-million-dollar loan needed to finance a new community centre.
The Peace River Regional District board is working through several processes that may in future require referendum, but nothing has been confirmed or scheduled at this time.
There are also referenda expected for the City of Vernon and the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, but details of those have yet-to-be-determined.
This story will be updated as details are made public or as responses are received.