Arrow Lakes News
Imagine Canadian celebrity Rick Mercer sauntering through your town as he records one of his famous rants. That’s one of the prizes the Kootenay Community Voter Challenge is negotiating for the community that has the highest increase in voter turnout in the federal election this October.
Challenge representative Kiara Lynch spoke to the Regional District of Central Kootenay, inviting the 20 directors to register their communities in the non-partisan challenge.
“A challenge is not a challenge without challengees,” said Lynch, who added suggested rewards include a seat in the senate for the mayor of the community with the highest increase in voter turn-out or a golden ticket to local attractions.
Board chair and Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling said she’s up for the challenge.
“But if Nakusp wins, I would not like to win a seat in the senate,” she said to the laughter of her fellow board members.
Rural Salmo director Hans Cunningham was in favour of anything that encourages voting.
“We would like to participate,” he said, but was uncertain if federal election voting would allow for Ymir residents to be counted separate from their Salmo voting station. Lynch confirmed that they can extrapolate the data.
The winner of the challenge will be the community which shows the greatest percentage increase in voter participation over the results of the 2011 federal election. By using percentages rather than voter counts, communities of different populations can still fairly compete.
Rural Kaslo director Aimee Watson said: “I want a better representative government. I suggest that better representation is the reward.”
Lynch said the upcoming federal election is the perfect opportunity to encourage democratic process.
Nelson mayor Deb Kozak noted her council has already accepted the challenge.
“I want to throw down the white gloves,” she said.
Creston, however, has declined to participate.
The driving force behind the challenge is to get people interested in voting to the point where they register and get to the voting stations on Oct. 19.
Feedback has also spurred an offer from Tiny Lights Festival founder and executive director Carla Stevenson.
“I not only want to take this challenge on for Ymir but will donate two tickets to the Tiny Lights Festival 2016 to the winning community!” she wrote.