EDITORIAL – Postponing PAC referendum the smart thing to do

(Image: Kamloops Centre for the Arts Committee/ PAC Vote No)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

POSTPONING THE REFERENDUM on a new performing arts centre is the only logical thing to do.

At this writing, the City of Kamloops is taking a serious look at that in view of COVID-19.

Mayor Ken Christian said Monday the City is in discussions with the Province about options for the vote that was scheduled for April 4. Theoretically, it could be done by a mail-in ballot, or by limiting the number of voters at each polling station throughout the voting day.

But putting it off till a later date is the responsible and smart thing.

Other than concerns about contributing to the spread of the virus, there’s another, very practical reason. COVID-19 is bound to suppress voter turnout no matter what voting iteration is used. It probably isn’t going to be very high, anyway; in the 2015 referendum, only 32 per cent showed up to vote.

I’d be surprised if more than 10 to 15 per cent of eligible voters take part, in view of the virus. The result would be that a very small minority would make this important decision on a potential $45-million borrowing, and that’s not good.

It’s especially bleak if you support the project, because traditionally voters who oppose something are more likely to go to the polls than those who support it. In other words, an extremely low turnout makes the chances of approval even less than under normal circumstances, and that’s very bad news for the “yes” side.

It’s a decision that shouldn’t have taken so long, but procrastination seems to be standard practice when it comes to fighting COVID-19. Putting off this referendum until at least September would give everybody a better chance to study the pros and cons, and result in a fairer outcome.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8234 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Postponing PAC referendum the smart thing to do

  1. Frank Dwyer // March 18, 2020 at 2:08 PM // Reply

    Of course our local politicos will say it’s not our decision. That’s a mere technically. Leadership is about getting out in front. What they really mean is they don’t want to anger their backers and buddies. They can then duck any recrimination because they didn’t deliver. Speak out you timid, privileged #@%%xxx’s.

  2. Frank Dwyer // March 18, 2020 at 9:34 AM // Reply

    The voter turnout for the last referendum was poor. This time it would be abysmal and unrepresentative. Have the courage to cancel it, and take a little flak. We elect politicians to stand up and make decisions when it counts most. It’s like the King waiting for the jester to tell him what to do. (No insult meant to the electoral officials, the joker was most often wise). Do the obvious thing. Postpone.

  3. John Noakes // March 18, 2020 at 5:44 AM // Reply

    Anybody with 2 grains of common sense should understand this is not the time to take on this debt load given the circumstances we face.
    Someone should ask Dr. Henry her opinion on going ahead with the referendum.

  4. Trish Keegan // March 17, 2020 at 5:06 PM // Reply

    It appears that Kamloops City Council cannot do what is best for the residents of Kamloops and the Kamloops Arts Centre, that is, postpone the referendum. They must wait for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Social Housing to make the decision. I don’t buy it. If I cannot go to the polling station and vote (I never have and will not do a mail in vote) because I am advised to STAY HOME and self-isolate, then I am not able to vote. If this arts centre goes ahead without my input and that of many, many other residents, the election is skewed, and the City is responsible.

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