After wildfires required the postponement of the Shuswap Watershed Council referendum in mid-August, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) Board is recommending a new general voting date be set for a Saturday in early February 2024.
Ballots already cast for the referendum in Advance and Mail-In voting will be securely retained until the new election date and will be included in the count.
The CSRD’s Electoral Areas F (North Shuswap) and G (Blind Bay, Sorrento, Notch Hill) were both directly affected by wildfire with Evacuation Orders requiring the cancellation of voting opportunities in those areas. Electoral Areas F and G were part of the Shuswap Watershed Council referendum voting area, along with the District of Sicamous and Electoral Areas C, D, and E.
The Provincial Government authorized the postponement by Ministerial Order due to the Provincial State of Emergency due to wildfires.
As part of the emergency, the Regional District used a Special Voting Regulation and voted on August 21, 2023, to give three readings to an amendment bylaw that extends the existing Shuswap Watershed Council service by one year until December 31, 2024. The Board adopted this amendment bylaw at the September Regular Board Meeting.
As such, the Shuswap Watershed Council service may continue to be funded and remain in operation for an additional year, pending the results of the assent voting.
If the referendum is held in February and the result is no, the Shuswap Watershed Council service would no longer be funded and would expire December 31, 2024. If the referendum result is yes, the service would continue in perpetuity.
CSRD staff will now work to secure appropriate voting locations to allow for a General Voting Day in February. Once this has been determined, a new voting day will be officially set. Additionally, another Mail-In Ballot option will be set up for eligible voters to cast referendum ballots during that voting period.
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