All local governments in British Columbia will have a general election on October 15th this year. The previous election took place on October 20th 2018. Starting in 2014 the term for local Councils was changed from three years to four years. This brought British Columbia in line with other provinces.
In 2018 Peachland made the news when there was a tie vote for Mayor between Cindy Fortin and Harry Gough with 804 votes each. Not everyone was happy that the result was decided by pulling a name from the box. But that is the process adopted by most municipalities, to avoid the costs of an additional vote.
The result in the Peachland Council election was very close with ten people running and six elected. Patrick Van Minsel was elected to Council with the highest vote of 1094, followed by Pete Coolio with 1073, Terry Condon with 1029, Pam Cunningham with 1022, Keith Fielding with 998 and Mike Kent with 996. That was quite a change for Mike Kent who received the highest number of votes in 2014. Although not elected, Rick Ingram was only 23 votes behind Mike Kent with 973, followed by Karen Mustard with 963, Leanne Sarsons with 796, Mario Vucinovic with 673, and Andrew Kwacyzynski with 277.
This year the nomination filing period is from August 30th to September 9th. To run for office, candidates must be at least 18 years old and have lived in BC for at least six months. You do not have to live in Peachland or own property here. If you are involuntarily confined to a psychiatric facility or other institution, you cannot run; no surprise there.
The fact that you can run in the district without living there is interesting. When Harry Gough ran for Mayor in 2018, he was living in West Kelowna. However he had lived in Peachland previously for many years and was a very popular manager at the local IGA. Mario Vucinovic was living in Peachland in 2014 when he was elected to Council but had moved to live in Kelowna prior to the 2018 election. If you move away, you do not have to resign, unless you are unable to attend the meetings. By-elections are not common here but we did have one in 2010 when Ernie Hurd resigned from Council. Hurd resigned after Peachland voters turned down the idea of borrowing money to complement a provincial grant to build a curling club.
In England local elections are run on a ward system. If we had a ward system in Peachland, we might have two Councillors representing the Princeton area, two for Trepanier and two for Beach Avenue. Neighbourhoods would be divided based on population and you would vote for the Councillors running in your area. This option is available in British Columbia but the only local government to use it is the District of Lake Country. Even the City of Vancouver does not use wards with all ten Councillors being elected at large. Terry Condon is our longest serving Councillor, he was elected to Council whilst Graham Reid was the Mayor and has served on four Councils.
It is expected that the election on October 15th will be the subject of some heated debate. Much of the debate will be about the amount and character of development, an issue that has divided opinion in Peachland for many years.