Boosting Chilliwack’s voter turnout in the next municipal election is the aim of an interactive website recently launched by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board.
The initiative may be the first by a real estate organization in B.C.
Chilliwack ranked ninth from the bottom of the list of B.C. municipalities for voter turnout in the last municipal election held in November, 2008.
Mark Andersen, president of the real estate board and a former city councillor, said in light of that dismal record, the board decided to launch a website instead of holding an all-candidates meeting like other community organizations.
The website at www.thevalleyvotes.ca will feature “man-on-the-street” interviews asking Chilliwack people for their views on local issues, and give election candidates a platform to present their positions to voters.
A vote in municipal elections may be the most important ballot a resident can cast, although federal and provincial elections get the lion’s share of media and public attention.
“Many people are not aware of how much power the municipal government has on our tax dollars,” Andersen said.
Local councils also decide everything from how much noise you can make at night to approving highrise developments next door to your dream home.
Only 12,633 ballots were cast in the last municipal election in 2008, and a paltry 7,406 in 2005 – although there were no challengers for the mayor’s seat that year, which usually draws more voters to the polls.
Municipal elections in B.C. are held on the same date every three years.
This year, the election date is Nov. 19, and several candidates have already announced their intention to run for one of the six seats on Chilliwack city council.
Municipal elections in B.C. include voting for school board trustees, Fraser Valley Regional District directors and Cultus Lake park commissioners.