A rural Vancouver Island community will have to go to the polls twice this year despite a request to wait until the fall’s scheduled municipal election.
The B.C government has rejected the Regional District of Nanaimo’s request to exempt it from a byelection following the death of a regional director last fall.
A byelection was necessitated after previous Area C director Maureen Young died in November after a battle with cancer. The RDN board had directed staff in January to ask the province if requirements for the byelection could be waived, citing COVID-19 case counts at the time and noting that a local government election is already set to happen this October.
In a response letter, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs Nathan Cullen told the RDN there weren’t any “legislative mechanisms” to abandon the byelection. Authority to cancel is reserved for byelections already underway, he said, citing the wildfire that affected the Village of Lytton this past summer as an example.
“The conditions described by RDN do not appear to constitute a special circumstance that would enable me to grant such a request,” Cullen said.
The RDN has 80 days to establish a byelection date after appointing a chief electoral officer, which it did at its board meeting today, March 8.
Alternate Charles Pinker is serving as Area C director in the interim.
Electoral Area C, encompasses Extension, Nanaimo Lakes, East Wellington and Pleasant Valley.
More information on the byelection is forthcoming and will be posted to the RDN’s website, www.rdn.bc.ca.
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