District of Barriere CAO Colleen Hannigan reported to council June 3, on the results of the Bylaw 102 Referendum Voting. There were three main points: confusion as to whether or not a voter was in or out of the water service area; the fact that, as with political elections, corporate owners are not entitled to vote; and that some voters thought that there was only one vote allowed for each property, which only applies to non-resident property owners.
On the first point – determining who is or isn’t in the service area – research by staff revealed that there was a water service area map defined by bylaw in 1993, and amended in 1997. When inspected, it was determined that due to changes since 1997, there are some inconsistencies along Dunn Lake Road and at the south end of the area. Based on the most recent amendment to the map, two people who were turned away at the polls are not currently serviced by municipal water; two people were allowed to vote that are on water but not within the boundaries shown on the map; two people were allowed to vote who are not within the service area on the map, and one person was allowed to vote who is not in the service area, but owns property under a corporate name in the service area.
Since the difference between the Yes and No votes was 14, and the number of irregularities is seven, this is not enough to affect the outcome of the vote, and therefore is not enough to warrant an application to the Supreme Court to declare an invalid election.
According to the Local Government Act, Section 145 (3) “The court must not declare an election invalid by reason only of an irregularity of failure to comply with this Act or a regulation or bylaw under this Act if the court is satisfied that (a) the election was conducted in good faith and in accordance with the principles of this Act, and (b) the irregularity or failure did not materially affect the result of the election.”
Council’s options now that the Referendum was defeated? Wait the required six months and revisit the borrowing bylaw; or draft a new borrowing bylaw immediately for a different amount of many, and possibly different parameters and go back to the electors for assent.
Regardless of the options chosen to move forward, council members voted to bring the Water Service Area Map up to date, by bylaw, as soon as possible, and that properties within that boundary that do not have a connection stub at the property line are made aware that they are considered to be within that boundary and will be subject to the associated fees should borrowing be approved in the future.
Council members also voted to prepare a resolution to take to the UBCM, to allow businesses a vote on items pertaining to services.