Referendum turnout tops recent Nanaimo elections

By Spencer Sterritt
March 13, 2017 - 5:16pm Updated: March 15, 2017 - 11:54am

Many voting locations across Nanaimo reported steady lines on Saturday, March 11.Dominic Abassi/NanaimoNewsNOW Staff

NANAIMO — The substantial showing by Nanaimo's community in the Saturday, March 11 event centre referendum was welcomed by members of City Council.

Mayor Bill McKay said there's “nothing worse than a squeaker,” and coun. Diane Brennan said she was impressed with the passion on display from Nanaimo residents.

“It tells me people are very interested in what's next for Nanaimo and I am too. I'm looking forward to real, positive community engagement,” Brennan said.

Nearly 24,000 people, 35.3 per cent of eligible voters, cast ballots in the event centre referendum.

This is compared to nearly 17,000 votes in the 2011 civic election and 21,500 in 2014.

Chief election officer Sheila Gurrie said though referendum numbers were higher than previous elections, it fell well short of Nanaimo's last referendum.

She said 50 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2004's Vancouver Island Conference Centre referendum.

According to Gurrie, referendums are typically more popular than civic elections.

“When it's a question that concerns the citizen, they tend to come out more than for mayor and councillor for some reason,” Gurrie said.

Given the record breaking turnout at advance polls, Gurrie said she was surprised to see the final number wasn't even higher. 

The numbers will be officially declared by Gurrie on Wednesday.


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