Gulf Islands Driftwood
Voice of the Southern Gulf Islands

Salt Spring votes No to incorporation

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Salt Spring voters have rejected an incorporation governance option by a 3930 to 2419 margin — or 61.9 per cent. 

Returning officer Tony Kennedy initially reported the totals as 3916 to 2402, but one poll was not included in the initial tally.

The vote breakdown provided by Kennedy was:

Community Gospel Chapel – No: 1240  Yes: 1043 (both Sept. 9 and advance polls)

Fulford – No: 427; Yes: 178.

GISS (Sept. 9) + SS Library Advance Polls – No: 2155   Yes: 1113

Richmond (Sept. 9) – No: 4   Yes: 14

Sidney (Sept. 9) – No: 14   Yes: 17

Mail-in – No: 90  Yes: 54

Kennedy noted those results are considered preliminary.

According to the Capital Regional District, which administered the referendum, Salt Spring had 8,798 registered voters — 8,719 of those living on the island and the rest being non-resident property owners. With 6,349 ballots cast, that calculates to 72 per cent voter turnout. That figure does not take into account newly registered voters. 

The Positively No Campaign responded to the victory in a press release by saying that “The real winner tonight is Salt Spring . . . [which] will continue to be guided, preserved and protected by a unique and progressive form of governance.”

“To the many islanders who voted no, we extend our deepest gratitude and we celebrate with you. To all our many volunteers and supporters, we say tonight’s result could not have happened without your commitment, faith and energy. Thank you one and all. Tonight, we feel joy, relief and anticipation for what is to come.

“To those who opposed us, we commend you on your hard-fought campaign.Your beliefs were promoted with passion and steadfastness. It is our fervent hope that we can all move forward from tonight’s outcome in a spirit of collaboration and reconciliation in the interests of community harmony and well- being.

“To the elected officials who publicly denounced the current governance as irreparably broken in favour of incorporation, we ask that you now acknowledge the will of the majority of Salt Spring islanders in rejecting the incorporation option. We further ask that you commit to work with the entire community on ways to address community concerns for the remainder of your term. Committed leadership and the political will to facilitate change as our governance evolves is what Salt Spring needs now.”

The YESS campaign stated in its formal response:

“We are very disappointed in the outcome but as the time honoured saying goes, the people have spoken. We are happy that we’ve seen a record turnout at the polls for this important decision and we congratulate the opposition on their win. Our belief remains that local government decisions should be made by a representative cross-section of Salt Spring Islanders. Today, not having taken the first step on that path, we reach out to our fellow Salt Springers who voted “no” to let them know we remain committed to more effective governance as far as the current system allows. We are extremely grateful for all the hard work of our volunteers and the funding provided by our donors. We could not have communicated our message of hope for the future without those resources.

“Islanders have argued for months now, sometimes politely, sometimes angrily, about the best way forward from Sept. 9. After all the squabbling, there is no dispute about this: born here or lured from elsewhere by the island’s magic, we all love this precious place and its unique community. Our only argument has been what form of governance best equips us to face coming challenges.

“The people have now decided. Whether one was Yes or No on this question today, we are united in wanting to create a better Salt Spring tomorrow. The road ahead isn’t smooth but we all have a stake in the outcome. Yes and No voters alike know that they will have to put their shoulders to the wheel to ensure a brighter future for us and the generations to come.

“We also thank George Grams, Peter Grove, and Wayne McIntyre for fulfilling their campaign promises of six years ago to secure a full governance review allowing islanders to make the best possible informed choice.”

See the Sept. 13 issue of the Driftwood for more on the referendum story.

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