With a bylaw and related question in place for the borrowing of $5.3 million to construct the Ross Street underpass, the stage is set for a referendum.
At their regular meeting on Monday, Salmon Arm’s mayor and council gave three readings to the Ross Street Underpass Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 4500. Council also authorized staff to conduct a referendum to obtain approval from electors to adopt the bylaw.
In addition, council approved the referendum question, which is as follows: “Are you in favour of council for the City of Salmon Arm adopting Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 4500, which would authorize the City of Salmon Arm to borrow $5,300,000 for the purpose of constructing the Ross Street Underpass and related works.”
“Probably the most important part to us is the question we’re going to ask the voters and I really like the question as it’s quite simple and easy to understand,” commented Coun. Alan Harrison.
Construction of the underpass is expected to cost a total of $12.48 million. The referendum to borrow the $5.3 million will be held in conjunction with the Oct. 20 municipal election.
In a related report to council, city chief election officer Erin Jackson notes approval of electors via referendum is not binding “in that council still has the opportunity to defeat the bylaw at final reading,” or raise the funds through taxation.
In the same report, Jackson outlines the election process, including when and where residents will have an opportunity to vote. On Oct. 20, voting will occur at the SASCU Recreation Centre, North Canoe School, Gleneden Hall and the Mall at Piccadilly. Advanced voting will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 10, and Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in council chambers at city hall.
Special voting opportunities will also be available to qualified electors who are patients or staff at Shuswap Lake General Hospital, Hillside Village and Bastion Place.
Mail ballot voting will also be available to people who have a physical disability, illness or injury that affects their ability to vote, or people who expect to be absent on general voting day. The deadline for mail-in ballot submissions is Oct. 20.
With the earlier general voting date, the advanced polls and other voting opportunities, Coun. Kevin Flynn is hopeful there will be higher voter turnout this election.
“I think our record, that I can remember, is somewhere around a 30 per cent turnout for an election,” said Flynn. “I hope with the changes to October that we won’t have the excuse of snow or ice or inability to get to a voting spot. I’m pretty sure with the underpass referendum being there we might perhaps break a record for voter turnout…”
In addition to the referendum, council also voted to suspend question-and-answer period in general council meetings until Oct. 22. Coun. Tim Lavery noted there will still be plenty of opportunities for the public to provide input to council.