The Fraser Cascade School District board will be one trustee short for the foreseeable future, as an election to fill the position left by the passing of John Koopman has been cancelled by B.C.’s education minister.
With the sudden passing of trustee and educator John Koopman in early May, the seat he held as a Hope and Silver creek area school board trustee was left vacant. Under Section 36 of the School Act, an election must be held to fill such a vacancy.
Ministerial order number M171, signed by Minister of Education Rob Fleming May 26, states that the by-election for the vacant trustee position has been cancelled.
The reasons given for the cancellation, as stated in the order, include the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as the ongoing state of emergency active in B.C. and the restrictions on public gatherings over 50 people.
The by-election in Fraser Cascade is not the first to be cancelled due to the pandemic – March 31 the minister cancelled the Arrow Lakes School District’s by-election to fill a vacant board position.
Under the Local Government Act, the orders stated, the Minister of Education is able to make orders when ‘special circumstances exist regarding an election.’
So far, there are no plans for how to proceed after the cancelled election.
“A future date has not been set at this time,” the ministry stated. “It is anticipated the by-election will occur when the board advises the Minister it is confident the by-election can proceed safely.”
Secretary Treasurer at SD78 Natalie Lowe said there are many considerations and there is no ‘crystal ball’ to be able to see how things will look in the fall.
Considerations include limiting large gatherings during an eventual election, as well as ensuring the safety of election workers who are often retired and some are in the ‘at-risk’ group amid COVID-19.