EDITORIAL: Municipal elections draw disinterest

As usual, majority of voters stayed home

Congratulations to all of the candidates who stood for election to city council, village council, regional district and school board in Saturday’s local government elections.

Win or lose, your willingness to contribute makes our communities better by virtue of that simple act.

But the vast number of voters who did not exercise their democratic rights is a real concern.

Courtenay numbers were up from the 31 per cent who voted in 2014, but not nearly enough. Only 7,372 of the 19,869 eligible voters took the time to cast a ballot Saturday – a paltry 37 per cent.

Comox broke the 40 per cent threshold, barely, with 40.4 per cent voter turnout (4,392 out of 10,867 eligible voters).

Cumberland, proved to be the most engaged community in the Comox Valley, with a 48 per cent voter turnout. Still nothing to celebrate. We expected, with an actual mayoralty race this year, the numbers would climb considerably. They were up seven per cent from 2014.

Rural voters stayed away in droves. The three Comox Valley Regional District electoral areas combined for an abysmal 29 per cent voter turnout.

Perhaps people don’t feel informed enough about the issues to cast a vote. There is a value in not voting if you’re not up to speed on the issues. But then it becomes incumbent on voters to know the issues and that is not just something to cram into a few weeks before the election.

With some of the controversial issues (i.e. settlement nodes, and protection of well water), we thought our rural community would step up. We were incorrect.

Voters need to be aware of what’s going on in their community throughout the four years of their representatives’ term. And that means paying attention to the local news, attending council meetings (or at least reading about them, or watching them online) and public hearings as well as the myriad open houses for various projects, programs and plans.

Democracy is a lot of work but it is only you that benefits from it.

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