West Kelowna won’t say if referendum recount is underway

The official results will be released Wednesday afternoon at the city's municipal offices.

Is there, or is there not, a recount of the result of Saturday’s West Kelowna city hall borrowing referendum underway? Officials with the city are not saying.

When asked Tuesday if the recount the losing Yes side asked for after the unofficial result was announced Saturday night was taking place, city communications manger Kirsten Jones said she could not comment.

She said she did not know if a recount could be started prior to Wednesday afternoon’s release of the official referendum results.

The woman who would know, the chief electoral officer for the referendum, would not be available until after the release of the official results Wednesday afternoon, Jones added.

“All I can say is we are reviewing documentation from the referendum and information about polling station results,” said Jones Tuesday, declining to call what was being done a recount.

Following Saturday’s vote — in which the No side won by a slim 27-vote majority—officials with the Yes side said they wanted a recount.

The unofficial result showed 4,212 voted against borrowing $7.7 million for the $14.8 million civic centre project, while 4,185 voted in favour. There were 26,000 West Kelowna residents eligible to vote.

On Tuesday, Ian Graham, who lead the No side, said the vote had divided the community, a split he does not believe the current council will be able to heal.

He said the city should now put money into improving the existing municipal offices at the Mt. Boucherie Recreation Centre in order to get another five to 10 years out of them, and also house some city employes at the Lion’s Westbank Community Centre, which the city is currently negotiating to take over.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, who was a vocal supporter of the civic centre plan and the borrowing needed for it, has said the city will likely have to install more portables at the Mt. Boucherie site to house the growing city workforce.

He also hinted in some media reports immediately following Saturday’s referendum that the issue of the new city hall could come back on the ballot during the next municipal election.

Findlater could not be reached for further comment Monday or Tuesday.

But Graham said he would oppose having the issue come back at the next municipal election

“It’s time to get the politicians to understand that bringing the community together should be the priority,” said Graham, “pointing to the divisiveness the referendum had caused.

But, he added, he did not think the current council was up to the task.

“I think some of (the council members) have outlived their political usefulness,” he said refusing to identify any specific members of council.

Graham said while he feels that way, he would not personally work to have any current council member defeated in the next election.

“That will be up to voters,” he said.