September 22, 2016 - 5:01 PM
MAYOR REBUFFS CRITICISM COUNCIL DIDN'T CAMPAIGN HARD ENOUGH FOR YES SIDE
WEST KELOWNA - Even as the Yes side considers a possible judicial challenge, Mayor Doug Findlater is defending council against criticism they sat on their hands during the city hall referendum and let the Yes vote slip away.
“I’ve heard the opposite actually, that people thought we weren’t objective enough, that we should be unbiased,” Findlater says.
“I know I certainly took every opportunity I had for public engagement,” the mayor adds. "I visited the farmers market, Music in the Park, I spoke on the (radio), sent out letters to the editor. I even went shopping a bit more so I could get out and talk to people.”
More disappointing for Findlater, although not unexpected, was the low voter turnout of approximately 30 per cent.
“That’s actually significant but still fairly typical of municipal elections,” Findlater says “I don’t think our last election was that much different.”
Meanwhile, Yes side spokesman Peter Wannop says the group is giving careful consideration to the potential for a judicial challenge, which can be launched by any eligible West Kelowna voter. The deadline is September 29.
“It’s a matter of thinking whether we actually have a chance of having it overturned,” Wannop says, who believes a recount would have to show a substantial difference from the current results to give the Yes side a mandate and make it worth rocking the boat.
“We would need to get a substantial amount over 27 votes to make it worthwhile or it will just end up back in court,” he says.
Wannop said he thought that mayor and council could have been more aggressive in their support for the new city hall.
“I think a lot of people think they could have spent more time supporting it,” he says. “I do think they were fighting an uphill battle against a lot of disinformation."
Findlater says, barring a judicial challenge mounted by a private citizen, council is moving on from this and will begin to look at other options to relieve overcrowding at the current municipal hall.
“We have spent a lot of time focused on this and there’s so many other things to do - water, the highway, parks, there’s a plethora of things to put our attention to,” Findlater adds.
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