Lumby split over election rule

Divisions are erupting over who should be able to sit on Lumby council.

Divisions are erupting over who should be able to sit on Lumby council.

A delegation asked council Monday to lobby the provincial government to change rules that permit residents from outside of a jurisdiction to run for public office within a jurisdiction.

“In other provinces, you must live where you are running,” said Janet Green, a former councillor.

All current council members live within village limits, but residents from adjacent Area D of the regional district have served on council before.

“They don’t have the same feel for the community because they don’t live there,” said Green.

“If you are voting on my tax dollars, make sure it impacts you too. Their (rural) tax dollars are going to the regional district. No money from Area D goes into the coffers to support Lumby as an entity.”

About 20 people attended Monday’s meeting and those opposed to a policy change were given an opportunity to state their case.

“If someone cares enough to do this (run for council), they will do a great job,” said Huguette Allen, who lives in the rural area outside of the village.

She points out that many rural residents are involved in activities in Lumby, including the chamber, and are part of the broader community.

“We pay a  lot of taxes for parks and  recreation.”

Allen says potential changes in governance, like amalgamation, could be discussed but simply limiting who can be elected is the wrong approach.

“We’re trying to mend things after the prison issue and now this is presented,” she said.

“It’s a real hit below the belly to people who live in rural Lumby.”

Green says the prison debate highlighted the voting process, but concerns about non-residents sitting on council have been around for years.

“I moved to Lumby in 2004 and people were asking then why people from outside of the village are on council,” she said.

Council will consider the issue in two weeks.

“The citizens of Lumby and area need to have a conversation with their elected officials on this issue. We should hear from everyone,” said Coun. Jo Anne Fisher.

Fisher is concerned changing election rules could extend the rift created among residents over  a proposed prison.

“We need to be building bridges and not creating further divisions,” she said.

That is also a concern for Coun. Randal Ostafichuk.

“When you’re talking about non-residents, there could only be 20 feet between houses. We have to live together and work together with our neighbours in Area D,” he said.