FILE — Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow, Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, executive assistant Nicole Brown, councillor Deb McIntosh and councillor Bruno Tassone (left to right). (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

FILE — Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow, Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, executive assistant Nicole Brown, councillor Deb McIntosh and councillor Bruno Tassone (left to right). (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

Castlegar council works on election bylaw

COUNCIL BRIEFS: Business licences and building permits are up and toilet rebates will continue.

Council passed three readings of the bylaw that will regulate how the municipal election is run in October.

Before passing the bylaw, council looked at a report from Tracey Butler, director of corporate services for the city and the chief election officer for the upcoming election.

The report addressed three questions raised at a previous city council meeting about requiring valid B.C. identification, mail-in voting and segregating the voter’s list alphabetically to help prevent people from voting twice.

The report stated that: “The legislation that governs the proceedings that must be followed when conducting a Local Government Election are prescribed in the Local Government Act (LGA) Part 3. A municipal council does not have the powers to alter or supersede this legislation.”

As to the question regarding requiring identification — it was stated that as the city uses the Provincial Voters List: “An elector, who is on the list of electors and the information on the list is correct, once the elector has read the required declaration and state that they so declare, may receive their ballot without providing proof of identity or residency. The city does not have the authority to demand a higher standard than what is legislated through the LGA.”

Identification is required if an individual is not on the Provincial Voters List.

The current bylaw will not accommodate separating the voters’ list alphabetically. The city has not assigned specific portions of the list of electors to separate tables for efficiency reasons since 2008 when backlogs at certain tables caused delays.

The report stated that separating the lists would cost approximately $750 more as more election officials would be required to run the extra tables and prevent lineups from occurring.

The idea of mail-in ballots garnered more discussion as Coun. Bruno Tassone brought forward a separate motion asking to allow them.

Butler reported that during the 2016 by-election there were only two requests for mail-in voting and during the 2014 Regional District of Kootenay Boundary election, there were only 10 ballots received through mail-in voting. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary received 101 mail-in ballots in the same election. She also said that no other municipalities in the region offer mail-in voting, but the two regional districts do.

As the previous election was held in November and this election will be held in October, the prediction as to the number of people travelling during the election has gone down as winter travel typically starts later than October.

The city will also be offering two weeks of early voting opportunities in order to capture more voters who may be travelling during that time.

The estimated cost of incorporating mail-in voting is an additional $3,500 for staffing, advertising, printing, envelopes and postage.

Tassone’s motion failed to pass and mail-in voting will not be allowed in the municipal election.

Adoption of the voting bylaw is scheduled for the April 9 council meeting.

This bylaw does not govern the Castlegar Community Complex referendum that will take place in June. The referendum will be governed by the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Licenses and permits

Both business licenses and building permits are up year-to-date for 2018.

Business licence fees are up by about $3,500 and the total number of licences is up by 28.

One less building permit has been issued compared to last year, but the dollar figure is up by $272,175

Toilet rebate program

The city will continue with its toilet rebate program again this year, but the budget has been increased from $5,000 to $10,000.

Under the program homeowners who switch from older 13.6 litres per flush or greater toilets to newer more efficient six litres or less flush toilets are eligible for a $75 or $100 rebate on their utility bill depending on the type of toilet installed.

The program’s intake has been increasing and the city expects to see an additional increase this year as people switch to metered water billing look for ways to reduce their consumption.

During the first eight years of the program, 427 toilets have been replaced.

The city says that: “Using published averages, with an average family of four, the replacement of 427 toilets will result in approximately 9.380 million litres of potable water being saved per year.”

Toilets must be new, six-litres or less, CSA or Warnock Hersey certified and be purchased from a local supplier to be eligible for a rebate. Details are available at castlegar.ca.