Peachland has highest voter turnout for the past decade in Central Okanagan

Peachland had a voter turnout of 42 per cent in the last municipal election

Peachlanders really like to vote. In fact, numbers show more of them are likely to hit up polling stations compared to the rest of the Central Okanagan.

The last municipal election in 2014 saw nearly half of district’s residents drop off their ballots, as 42 per cent of district’s 4,300 residents (at the time) voted.

The district also maintains the highest voting record in the past decade, with 38 per cent in 2011 and 46 per cent in 2008.

Lake Country, the Central Okanagan’s next smallest community with 13,000 people, had 25 per cent in 2011. Kelowna also had a poor turnout with 32 per cent in 2011, as did West Kelowna with 30 per cent.

Turnout to the last municipal elections across B.C. averaged 33 per cent.

Don Wilson, with the Peachland museum, was a Peachland councillor for 19 years. He gave a few theories as to why Peachlanders like to vote, compared to the rest of the Central Okanagan.

READ MORE: 6 people hope to be Peachland’s next mayor

More people at a retirement age means more time to weigh in on issues in the community, whereas young families may not have the time, he said. About half of Peachland’s population is 55 or older, according to census data.

Kelowna’s population of 127,000 has about 44,400 residents who are 55 or older, Lake Country has roughly 4,000 of 13,000 and West Kelowna has about 11,600 residents who are 55 or older in its population of 32,600, according to the census.

The community also keeps council’s noses to the grindstone, Wilson said.

“I think Peachland people are quite interested in what’s going on in the community and when there’s a public meeting going on, there’s usually a very good turnout. People are aware of the issues and they get very polarized.”

“If you do something in town and people don’t like it you’ll hear it right away,” Wilson said. “One of the big issues to hit Peachland in the past year has been the five storey rezoning on Beach Avenue and that got a lot of people involved and there’s a lot of controversy over it.”

A lot of people believe after a certain amount of time council’s not listening to them, but you see that in federal and provincial politics as well, Wilson said.

“They think that change is better than trying to keep the old people in,” he said.

Six candidates are also vying to be the district’s mayor, making it the largest mayoral race in the Central Okanagan. Lake Country and West Kelowna have two candidates and Kelowna has four.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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