Voters in Pitt Meadows are voicing their frustration to Elections B.C. because no advance voting locations are available in the city this year.
“I fail to understand why the residents of Pitt Meadows are treated in this inequitable fashion” said Bill Gordon, who has lived in the city since 1993.
“As far as we can recall, we have been able to exercise our right to vote, be it in provincial or federal elections right here in our beloved city.”
This year however, both advance poll locations are in Maple Ridge.
Elections B.C. understands the locations are a bit of trek for Pitt Meadows residents but had no alternative.
Polling stations must be wheel-chair accessible and close to transit.
“I really did my homework,” Lucille Gibeault, the district electoral officer for Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows.
Pitt Meadows’ family recreation centre is under renovation, as is the Ramada Inn on Lougheed Highway. She couldn’t find space at other community halls and the South Bonson Community Centre is not on a bus route.
She tried to book city hall’s boardroom but was unable to since city hall would have to remain open on a Saturday when it’s usually closed.
There was no space at the library either and the hockey arena was not suitable.
The closest place Gibeault found was the Maple Ridge Alliance Church at the corner of 203rd and Dewdney Trunk Road.
“It’s just inside the boundary,” she said.
“It’s not like I didn’t try.”
But Pitt Meadows mayor Deb Walters suggested Elections B.C. should have contacted her or the city’s chief administrative officer.
“We would have found a space for them,” said Walters.
“This is a frustrating situation for our citizens. If the idea is, as suggested by Elections B.C. to encourage residents to get out and vote, we need to provide voting options that are easy and accessible … making them go out of their way to another municipality is not only discouraging, It is unacceptable.”
Advance voting for the 40th provincial general election began Wednesday, May 8 and is available through Saturday, May 11. In the 2009 General Election, 290,220 votes (17.57% of total votes) were cast at advance voting opportunities.
• Golden Ears United Church, 22165 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Maple Ridge
• Maple Ridge Alliance Church, 20399 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Maple Ridge
• Ridge Meadows Seniors Centre, 12150 224 Street, Maple Ridge
• St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church 8469 Cedar Street, Mission