Residents in Cluculz Lake have hired a lawyer to appeal the results of the pool referendum in Area F of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN).
The residents, Dick Martin and Randy Holubush, have opened an account where people can contribute funds to take the appeal to the Supreme Court of B.C., an endeavor that could cost between $25,000 and $75,000.
“It’s a lot less than we expect to pay for the pool if the facts are known,” said Holubush.
According to Vanderhoofpool.ca, 575 of 1,047 electors in Area F who participated in the referendum voted in favor of contributing at least $256,000 annually for the costs of operating a $12-million pool, which many residents won’t use, argues Holubush.
Holubush, who would personally pay an additional $388.80 of property taxes each year for 30 years if the pool is built, said some people from Area F were denied the opportunity to vote in the referendum.
Moreover, says Holubush, both seasonal and full-time residents of Cluculz Lake had to drive long distances to participate in the referendum.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with it if I thought everyone was given the same opportunity in the vote,” he said.
“What would have been ideal is everyone was treated equally and all would have had the opportunity for mail-in ballots.”
Cheryl Anderson, manager of administrative services for the RDBN, said that, under the Local Government Act, residents of Area F had to apply for the mail-in ballot. It wasn’t sent out automatically, she said.
“Every person that wanted a mail ballot had to apply for a mail ballot,” she said.
Due to the number of seasonal residents living in Cluculz Lake, the RDBN Board of Directors decided last year that mail-in ballots, a central concern in the last pool referendum in Area F, should be used in the rural area for the first time.
Late last year, letters explaining the process of applying for mail-in ballots were sent to both seasonal and full-time residents, said Jerry Peterson, director of Area F.
Petersen said Cluculz Lake residents were treated no differently than other electors, aside from the fact they had the option of utilizing mail-in ballots.
“Anybody on the tax notice list was sent a letter explaining to them everything,” said Petersen.
Figures on the number of seasonal residents who own properties in Cluculz Lake don’t exist, but Petersen said Area F isn’t unique in terms of the ratio of full-time to part-time residents. Other communities have similar demographics, he explained.
The vote was held responsibly and in accordance with government legislation, he said.
“Once the public makes a decision, that’s the way democracy works: You go with the majority of the people,” he said.