NEWS FILE PHOTO

Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

Whether this fall or next, B.C. voters would have to head to the polls during a pandemic, John Horgan said while explaining his decision to call a snap election.

But now that voting in the 2020 provincial election has concluded, residents of Langley, Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack could all be set to head to the polls again next year.

In three of those Fraser Valley cities, municipal or school board politicians are ahead in their respective races and look likely to trade local government positions for seats in the legislature. In Abbotsford-Mission, meanwhile, Mission Mayor Pam Alexis will have to wait weeks to see if she has won her race against BC Liberal Simon Gibson.

In Abbotsford and Chilliwack, the situation is clearest even with thousands of mail-in ballots to count.

RELATED: Abbotsford BC Liberals de Jong and Banman heading to Victoria, say Highway 1 widening will be focus

RELATED: Abbotsford-Mission riding too close to call, mail-in ballots will decide

Abbotsford Coun. Bruce Banman has a 2,000-plus vote lead in his Abbotsford South riding, while Chilliwack school trustee Dan Coulter has a 1,000-vote lead. His opponent, BC Liberal John Martin, has already conceded that he had likely lost.

In Langley, the chair of the school board there, Megan Dykeman, has a 793-vote edge over her BC Liberal rival. The Alexis/Gibson battles is much closer, with Alexis trailing by less than 200 votes.

What seems clear, though, is that by-elections will now be required to fill at least a couple Fraser Valley local government seats.

RELATED: An unexpected orange wave hits Chilliwack and Agassiz

RELATED: NDP candidate leads Langley East race

Exactly when those elections happen will be up for the respective local governments; provincial legislation gives each considerable leeway for the timing of by-elections. In Burnaby, where two councillors died over the summer, that municipality is eyeing a by-election for the spring.

But with the next full set of civic elections not slated to occur until 2022, local governments won’t be allowed to wait that long.

By law, a municipality is supposed to appoint a chief election officer “as soon as practicable” after a vacancy occurs. That officer then must set a voting day no later than 80 days after his or her appointment.

Over the spring, the province, which has authority over local governments, deferred by-elections as a result of the pandemic. But it has since issued guidelines to municipalities for how they can conduct safe by-elections during the ongoing pandemic.

Local governments, the province said in a news release “are encouraged to continue working with [Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing] staff to confirm plans and timelines to arrange safe, fair and accessible elections.”

Of the four possible Fraser Valley by-elections, the battle for Coulter’s vacated seat might be the most widely watched.

That board has been split between social progressives and conservatives in recent years, with Coulter, the chair of the board, giving progressives a 4-3 voting edge. The conservative block includes Trustee Barry Neufeld, who has been condemned for his views on LGBT and transgender issues.

RELATED: Chilliwack school trustee apologizes again for social media posts

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Most Read