Why Such Low Voter Turnout?

Our congratulations to Fin Donnelly, the newly-elected MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam, and to all of the candidates who ran in the by-election; Diana Dilworth, Rebecca Helps and Ken Beck Lee. Congratulations as well to all those who worked on the candidate campaigns. Campaigns are hard work and everyone who took part in the process is to be commended.
As is typically the case in by-elections, voter turnout was low. Only 29.9 per cent of the eligible voters bothered to take the time to vote (and just two days before Remembrance Day which honours those who fought and died to preserve our right to vote).
Sadly, low voter turnout is a trend that’s showing itself federally, provincially and municipally even in general elections. Exactly why is not entirely clear.
With no disrespect to 49.6 percent of the vote that went to Fin Donnelly last week, it works out that only about 14.5 per cent of the eligible voters chose the person to represent the eastern half of New Westminster plus Coquitlam and part of Port Moody in Ottawa.
Even more discouraging is the fact that the 29.9 per cent voter turnout in last week’s by-election beats the 24.3 per cent voter turnout in the last civic election in New Westminster. Out of 41,551 eligible civic voters, only 10,092 bothered to go to the polls in November 2008. And in many cases those elected to city council and the school board were elected by barely 8 or 9 per cent of the eligible voters.

Massey Theatre and Recent City Hall Visit to China

The mayor’s junket to China and the on-going drama surrounding the Massey Theatre’s fate have been prime topics of community conversation for several weeks now.

The Massey Theatre’s situation is, of course, collateral damage resulting from decade’s worth of school board incompetence and the never ending attempt to replace NWSS (an aging cold war relic) with a modern facility.

Left to their own devices, there’s no question that the Massey Theatre people would be operating of a hugely successful and very popular theatre venue.

Unfortunately, the boat anchor burden they’ve had to bear in the form of their school board landlords has fouled their propeller and left them sitting half dead in the water in recent years. Cutting the anchor chain and losing the deadweight of the Labour council dominated school board is obviously something that needs to happen (and soon). The Massey is too good to lose.

As for the mayor’s junket to China: Daniel Fontaine from CityCaucus.com had a great opinion-editorial piece recently in the Royal City Record. Fontaine’s notes on the ineffectiveness of scattergun economic development efforts and one-off junkets like New Westminster’s will resonate with many frustrated Royal City residents.

If you missed Fontaine’s commentary you can find it here on the Royal City Record. And you can also read Fontaine’s CityCaucus blog post about the mayor’s China junket on the CityCaucus.com website.