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The 'cost of democracy' calls for a $160,000 referendum

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June 17, 2015 - 5:30 PM

KAMLOOPS – Residents will decide if they are in favour borrowing $49 million to finance the purposed performing arts centre in a fall referendum, but it was the $160,000 cost of the referendum that recently came into question.

Coun. Denis Walsh debated nearly every point raised on the referendum, including the cost of advertising, the number of polling stations and the cost of electronic voting. Walsh said the projected cost of the referendum is far too high, and was Coun. Donovan Cavers often agreed.

Walsh questioned the $35,000 earmarked to distribute information, specifically $4,000 for advertising. While assured this money is meant to inform the public on the facts of the project, and where and when to vote, he asked if information couldn’t be conveyed just as affectively on the city’s website, instead of through media, mall displays and billboards.

Cavers echoed concerns about the number of polling stations. He said referendums garner much lower voter turnout than elections and should not require the same amount of staffing or stations. Walsh said Sahali Mall and Beatie school are both used as polling stations yet are close in proximity.

Uncomfortable with the $50,000 price tag, Walsh also questioned the use of electronic voting machines.

"But we’re only asking one question," Walsh said when staff explained it might take an additional week to count ballots manually.

Walsh attempted to pass an amendment against electronic voting machines, with himself, Cavers and Coun. Tina Lange voting in favour. The rest of council did not agree though, believing instead the cost of democracy 'is not inexpensive' and cutting costs could hurt the process.

Ultimately council unanimously carried the referendum recommendation — including advance voting dates, additional voting locations and to have the $160,000 undertaking be funded from last year’s surplus reserves.

Originally unveiled to the public April 9, the proposed performing arts centre. Based on the preliminary report the estimated cost for the project is $90 million. Because of the amount of debt the city will have to incur to make the project happen, a referendum has been called for Nov. 7.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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