With the weather holding steady at 11 degrees and sunny Saturday, not one Hope resident will be able to lean on the ‘bad weather’ excuse for skipping out on their civic duty.
And while voter turnout cannot be determined until results are announced after 8 p.m. today, election officials say there has been a good number of voters so far. In the 2014 election which was held in November, a much colder darker month, voter turnout was just over 39 per cent.
With the sun shining down, a steady stream of voters entered and exited the back doors at the Hope recreation centre this afternoon including many first-time voters. They had many reasons to vote, including concerns about the Station House and how to balance community-building with change in the form of development and business.
Eva Wunderman, a resident of Hope since 1981, said she has been voting in municipal elections since she became a Canadian citizen.
“The Station House, we should do something with. And I really think that the info centre should go there, and the museum,” she said. “That’s just one of the things I think has gone on and on and on and on. And it’s a perfect location. And I know there are issues with the building code maybe, things like that, but they have done so much to it and if you fix it up, it’s a perfect location.”
Hartmut Schmid said the issue of Station House is and will continue to be ‘a disaster’. He also spoke about the issue he has advocated for with the District, namely removing fire hazards in the district’s municipal forests.
“I would like to have the dead wood cleared, it’s as simple as that. I mean it’s going to go up sooner or later. There are cigarette butts all over the place, there are people living in the forest,” he said.
Some voters said they like the way things are, others would like to see a shake-up at the local political level.
Pauline Svensrud said she came to the polls to see some changes on council.
“To hopefully, maybe, see some changes in our council. Just bring some fresh new blood into it and see if they can bring our town back to where it should be,” she said. “I’d like to see more businesses survive. I don’t know how they could make that change…I see our town dying, and they need to bring in more than just tourism.”
Jeff Hebert, a first-time voter who came to the rec centre with his father Mike, said all the talk about change by some candidates was something that scared him. He didn’t want to see candidates coming in calling for radical change, “unless somebody is a real miracle worker, but they should be running for prime minister if they are.”
“I think they’re doing a splendid job so I didn’t want to see some ‘oh we gotta change, anything for change’ (candidate). There’s a lot of issues, there’s a lot of problems with homelessness, but those problems can be solved…We take care of it ourselves as best we can in Hope and I think we do it better than a lot of communities do,” he said.
Mike Hebert praised the community they both live in and its people, adding he is very happy with the recreation facilities in the town.
How to deal with growth and business development while retaining community was something Jasun Horsley had on his mind.
“I’m not in favour of change for its own sake,” he said. “I have very strong feelings about what’s good about Hope, in terms of it being a small town community that doesn’t necessarily support big business as in franchises and that kind of thing. Walmarts or Starbucks.”
While he isn’t against people who want to make Hope a more affluent community, if it means sacrificing what makes Hope a place he wants to live he isn’t for it.
“I don’t think it can be stopped, it’s progress. You can’t really stop it. But at least delay it for a few years and maybe learn to appreciate it more. The potential of a small community is it can start experiencing itself as a community.”
Several first-time voters came to the polls this year, ranging in age from just over the legal age of 18 to a few decades older.
Twenty-year-old Lindsay Svensrud, who is voting for the first time, said she would like to see more fun activities for young people in Hope. An arcade, for example, that is affordable enough for young people to frequent.
Horsley said in his 51 years on this earth he has never voted in an election, and he is against government in general. Yet getting involved in the community through running the New2Yew secondhand store, he decided to weigh in on politics at a local level.
“It’s like, you don’t want to try crack cocaine or something, you never know where it’s going to lead. So it was a little bit of that,” he said about his final choice.
Some who voted were thinking about the machinations of democracy as they went to the polls.
“On what basis do you select who you vote for, when you don’t know what they do after the election?,” said Schmid, who has lived in Hope for seven years. “There’s no way we can hold them to account between elections. We are stuck with them for four years, and I think that’s a serious flaw in our system.”
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