Departing mayor frustrated by voter turnout

Will Hansma thinks Canada should adopt Australia’s policy of making it against the law not to cast a vote

As he gets set to leave office, Will Hansma thinks Canada should adopt Australia’s policy of making it against the law not to cast a vote.

Hansma, chairing his last regular Township of Spallumcheen council meeting Monday after more than four terms, expressed his dismay with the community’s voter turnout in Saturday’s municipal election.

“I am disappointed in the community as a whole, very disappointed to see one of the poorest turnouts I can remember in the township,” said Hansma, referring to the turnout of 25.86 per cent of eligible voters. “I think that’s terrible.

“Particularly when you’re dealing with local government and the government that’s closest to you and deals with the fundamental part of your lives,  the police, infrastructure, industry, roads, health, land-use planning. Only one out of every four people now have the right to complain. That’s discouraging.”

Hansma did congratulate Coun. Janice Brown, who defeated Coun. Dave Brew by a margin of 542-432 in Saturday’s vote to replace Hansma as mayor.

He also commended incumbent councillors Christine Fraser, Andrew Casson and Todd York for retaining their seats, and welcomed incoming councillors Joe Van Tienhoven, Rachael Ganson and Ed Hanoski.

“You will all do a great job,” said Hansma.

For Brew, Monday’s meeting was the final regular one for him after three terms as a councillor.

“You always run to win, and I suppose you’re disappointed, but the people selected who they wanted and you live with that,” said Brew, who spent six years on council as chair of the parks and recreation commission.

He points to the building of the Nor-Val Sports Centre, the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Aquatic Centre and dramatically improved relations with the City of Armstrong as his legacies, and would not rule out a possible return to municipal politics.

“My term on council, everybody should do that,  it’s just a helluva good thing to do,” said Brew. “The experiences you have, the people you meet, you meet an awful lot of good people, and an awful lot of tough decisions have to be made, but working with others is a tremendously rewarding deal.”

Hanoski and Ganson are a father-daughter combo elected by the voters. Both attended Monday’s meeting.

“I’m very excited to have been elected and I can’t wait to serve the community,” said Ganson, who delivered the news to her dad that they had both been elected Saturday.

“I called him and he didn’t know yet as his Internet was down,” laughed Ganson. “I called him, kinda bluffed him out, and he said, ‘that’s okay,’ and I was like, ‘no, we actually made it.’ We’re both excited and looking forward to it.”

Dad beat daughter by 20 votes in the standings.

“I think the reason I got 20 more votes is that I stood outside of Askew’s, handed out about 60 pamphlets and shook all of those hands,” chuckled Hanoski. “I’m rather shocked that I got in, I wasn’t expecting it. But it’s great, and I’m looking forward to getting to work, let’s get going.”

The new council will officially be sworn in Dec. 5.