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Narrow referendum loss confirmed

September 22, 2016 9:25 A.M.
Election officer Tracey Batten declares referendum results official. (Wayne Moore - Castanet)

The City of West Kelowna is satisfied the election process was followed properly during the referendum to decide whether it could borrow the funds to build a city hall.

All that is left now is for council to decide a next course of action and the Yes side to determine if it will apply for a judicial recount.

In a packed city council chambers Wednesday afternoon, returning officer Tracey Batten announced the official outcome, which did not change from Saturday's preliminary results.

"Yes: 4,185; No: 4,212."

The 27 vote margin didn't change.

Batten said a complete audit was conducted, however this did not include a recount or a line-by-line accounting to determine whether people who voted were in fact eligible to do so or voted more than once.

"A line-by-line validation is not part of the determining process," said Batten.

"We review the voter registration to ensure our election officials registered voters in the required manner."

While results have been deemed official, the process may not be over.

Peter Wannop, co-chair of the Yes campaign, said he is trying to get clarification from Victoria to determine what basis could be used to ask for a judicial recount.

"One question I do have, were the ballots numbered, so, if you found somebody who voted twice or someone was ineligible to vote because of residence, how would we know what ballots to pull," said Wannop.

"They could have voted yes or they could have voted no."

Wannop said he has no evidence of any voter impropriety.

A decision will have to be made soon. Rules laid out by the province state a recount must be requested within nine days of the vote.

Ian Graham, who spearheaded the No campaign said he was not surprised at a possible call for a full recount.

He said he's not surprised by anything the Yes side does.

"We'll wait to see what happens next. I'm hoping that it'll be dead."

City council could also decide to go ahead with the city hall project by using monies it has accumulated in reserve account, thus bypassing the borrowing process altogether.

Council will look at its options at its next meeting Oct. 11.

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