An unusually large turnout of more than two thousand voters has sent a borrowing referendum to construct a new fire hall in Creston down to defeat.
Preliminary numbers, released at 10:15 p.m. on Saturday night, show that 1209 ballots opposed the borrowing of more than $6 million, while those in favour totaled 825.
The voting was reportedly marred by at least two complaints about people on each side of the issue attempting to influence voters in or near the Creston & District Community Complex.
“Tonight I feel we have proven the power still belongs to the people, that our voices are important, and that our democratic process is alive and well,” Myrna Johnson, who chaired the Committee for an Affordable Fire Hall, said in a statement to the Advance early on Sunday morning.“ We have proven it is our absolute right to hold an opposing view, and that holding that view forces our elected officials to the highest possible standard.”
Creston Mayor Ron Toyota expressed his disappointment at the outcome shortly after the results were released.
“With a No vote, our firefighters will, for now, need to continue operating from the converted 1950s grocery store that is our current fire all,” Toyota said. “Given this, Council will have to consider service levels that are provided by the fire department, possible taxation increases for the establishment of a fire hall reserve, and more.
“We hope the community will continue to be engaged with providing input as next steps are determined,” he said. “Additionally, we want to thank our firefighters and first responders – your service is one of our greatest community assets. Whether you voted Yes or No in the referendum for borrowing, thank you for being engaged.”
“I want to thank everyone who voted, everyone who believed their one vote counted, and everyone who showed passion for these issues and the future of our town,” Johnson said.
“Tomorrow, the citizens of Creston can go back to playing with our dogs, and baking cookies with our grandchildren, to living the life our great democracy has given us the privilege of enjoying. But we will carry with us the lessons we have learned from this process: that our engagement in our political process is essential, as is speaking our truth and refusing to be silenced.