West Vancouver had the second lowest voter turnout in history this year, which may be the result of the lack of coverage on the 15 council candidates.
The voter turnout reported by the district for the 2014 election was 28.34%, up from the 23.72% of the 2011 election, but the already small increase is even less significant because voters who were not registered in the last provincial election has been removed from the provincial list of registered voters, which is used for local elections as well.
“Percentage wise the book has shrunk,” said Mary-Ann Booth, who was re-elected to council Nov. 15. “So we might see an almost manufactured increase in voters.”
Without a mayoral race, voter turnout is naturally low, as evidenced by the sharp drop in turnout since Mayor Michael Smith has been running unopposed. However, Booth said that lack of coverage on the 15 candidates for council is also a contributing factor.
“I think people take their voting so seriously that they don’t want to vote for someone they don’t know,” Booth said. “Unless you come to an all-candidates meeting it’s very hard to differentiate between the candidates.”
Four of the six all-candidates meetings in West Vancouver takes place around 7 p.m., and according to the 2011 National Household Survey conducted by Statistics Canada, almost 40 per cent of West Vancouver residents commute to Vancouver for work, which may make it difficult for them to attend a meeting that starts during rush hour.
The North Shore News hosts profiles on each of the candidates, but only four questions regarding candidates’ platforms were featured and 11 out of 15 candidates included a vague reference to preserving “neighbourhood character” in their relatively short responses.
As well, Shaw recorded prepared speeches from the candidates from many B.C. municipalities, however, due to what is presumably a technical glitch, the video for West Vancouver is not displayed on their page.
Councilor Booth suggested that third-party electoral organizations such as West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government, which held its own all-candidates meeting, should help televise and broadcast the meetings.