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Councillor alleges voting irregularities

Chair of Pemberton Valley Dyking District denies procedure was changed part way through

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A councillor with the Village of Pemberton is alleging voting irregularities in a board election for the Pemberton Valley Dyking District.

Lisa Ames e-mailed Pique on April 21 with concerns that the election process for the Dyking District's board of trustees, held on April 15, was not administered fairly. She did not attend the meeting herself.

"At the start of the election, the voters were told that they must provide valid identification in order to vote," she wrote. "Several people left the meeting because they did not bring identification with them. This requirement was then changed halfway through the voting so that a statutory declaration was acceptable rather than having to produce identification."

Ames went on to say there was a problem with changing the rules of an election halfway through the process and that people who didn't leave to get their identification got an unfair advantage in voting... as did anyone they voted for.

In a message forwarded to all the trustees, Ames asked whether they had confirmed with the Ministry of Community Development if this "inconsistency" was handled in accordance with B.C.'s Local Government Act. She said it was important to clarify the issue because if the election were deemed invalid, any decisions by the board could be subject to a court challenge.

The process saw Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, Sunstone Ridge Developer Cam McIvor, farmer Bryce Ronayne, Bob Mitchell and Brenda McLeod elected to the board of trustees. McLeod was elected chair at the dyking district's April 22 meeting.

Speaking to Pique on Monday, McLeod said there was some misunderstanding with regard to the requirement for identification when voting. She denied that any change in the electoral process happened partway through the meeting.

"I think there was some misunderstanding with regard to the requirement to have identification to vote," she said. "I think that was clarified when someone asked the question so I think the general public could have asked the question if they were concerned."

McLeod went on to say that a number of people left the meeting to get their identification and then came back. She also said that identification was a requirement of the meeting before anyone even asked.

"I think the election was done in a very responsible, professional way," she said, adding that a notice was put in a local newspaper with a line informing voters that they had to bring identification to vote at the meeting.

"Our whole focus was to follow the Local Government Act with regard to elections," McLeod said. "Hence the reason we have a Returning Officer now, so that the elections are run following the guidelines of the Local Government Act.

"To base something on hearsay from someone that wasn't at the meeting, I think that's speculative and I'm not really interested in going there."

The Pemberton Valley Dyking District oversees flood protection in the Pemberton Valley. The district operates separately from the Village of Pemberton and is in charge of maintenance, repair, and improvement of works throughout the valley that are used to dyke, drain and pump water with the objective of preventing flooding.

 

 

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