Kamloops arts centre referendum postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic - InfoNews

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Kamloops arts centre referendum postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic

A photo of a handout depicting a rendering of a new performing arts centre in downtown Kamloops distributed at the Jan. 8, 2019 city council meeting.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/CHP Architects
March 19, 2020 - 8:53 AM

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the referendum on the proposed $70 million performing arts centre in Kamloops has been postponed.

Voters in Kamloops were to cast votes in the referendum on April 4, but Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson said in a media release it has been deferred to protect residents from the current threat of novel coronavirus.

"On behalf of the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society Board of Directors, I would like to thank the Mayor for requesting a postponement of the upcoming referendum and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for making this prudent choice," Norm Daley, Chair of the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society, said in a press release. "In our collective interest of public safety, we believe that holding off on the referendum is in the best interest of everyone at this time."

"We are working closely with the City to determine next steps and we will continue to provide updates on our progress to the community through our website, social media and traditional media outlets," he said.

This decision, as requested by public health officials and local government members, will help ensure residents are not required to gather in polling stations and will free up local government resources to deal with the impact of COVID-19, according to a media release.

The City said in a media release that any mail ballots received for the referendum will remain unopened and will be destroyed by the chief election officer as per the ministerial order and the ballots will not be included or counted in the rescheduled assent vote.

The ministry said decisions to reschedule the referendum will be made by the City in conjunction with public health officials and Elections B.C. 

Once a new date has been set for the Kamloops centre for the arts referendum, there will be a new call for election officials.

"I know that local governments are working hard to keep their communities safe and protected during this pandemic," Robinson said in the release.

Along with the referendum in Kamloops, the province has also deferred byelections planned in Lytton, Rossland and Victoria.

"Our government is working closely with our partners to help marshal all resources to protect those most vulnerable and 'flattening the curve' of the spread of COVID-19. After consulting with our public health officials and local governments, I have signed a ministerial order postponing byelections and referendums in these communities so they can focus on protecting their residents," she said.

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