The official results are in.
In only 15 days of collecting signatures, Rutland residents were able to collect a total of 14,147 signatures, including 12,984 from Kelowna residents, to show their opposition of the BC Housing project slated for McCurdy Road.
Audra Boudreau, the petition organizer, was looking to collect 13,000 signatures from Kelowna residents—representing 10 per cent of the city. Instead, to her surprise, signees from across B.C. and beyond penned the petition, however, missing information disqualified a total of 277 signatures.
“There were signatures from all over this great city, from neighbourhoods you wouldn’t have though we had support from,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
“Throughout the city, people do not want these facilities near schools, seniors and families,” she continued. “Interestingly, there are a few very surprising signatures in there as well—people who have seemingly supported the wet facility or have some involvement with it who, clearly, have the same concerns.”
Volunteers and concerned community members have been holding protests for more than a month against the 49-unit supportive housing project. Rutland’s biggest concern is that drugs and alcohol can be consumed on site. This is disconcerting for residents as the site’s location is situated near schools, seniors’ homes and family amenities.
“If that many voices are speaking out that loudly, it would be a fatal error in (council’s) part,” she said. “It’s a hard statement to discard for Mayor (Colin) Basran.”
She said the more than 14,000 signatures only illustrate a small picture of the reality of the situation. She said those who signed only represent eligible voters, it does not include those under the age of 18.
A few surprising signatures stood out to Boudreau during her more than 19-hour count.
Signatures from across the province, from as north as Prince Rupert to the southern tip of Vancouver Island appeared on the petition. She even noticed a single signature from Australia.
“There were even a couple of people we were out in the community in an official capacity that appeared to be in support of the development, and yet they signed the petition,” she said.
“We had homeless people who wanted to sign it,” she said. “They approached one volunteer who was downtown, but she told them she couldn’t accept them as they did not have a fixed address.”
She said she intends to present the petition to council during Monday’s meeting, however, she will not allow council to comb through it, as the signatures are meant for the province—if they have to take it to that next level.