At least one councillor says referendum outcome won’t end the discussion about an Events Centre
As the results started coming in last night the vote no team soon has reason to celebrate.
It’s a definitive win. 80 % of those who cast a ballot voted no.
“The citizens are united in voting no,” says Don Bonner of No Vote 2017. “It’s not just no to borrowing $80 million it’s no against building a WHL arena on our downtown waterfront. It’s no about the way this whole thing was presented to the people.”
At City Hall, a handful of media, the city’s mayor and a couple of councillors are also watching as the numbers come in.
For some the result is vindication.
“I’m not surprised at all,” says City Councillor Diane Brennan. “I was not in favour of this from the beginning and I maintained that people were not interested in this at this time.”
And the meaning of the result may depend on one’s position on the fractured council.
CHEK News asked Nanaimo’s mayor if this will end the conversation about an events centre.
“I believe it will for now.” says Mayor Bill McKay. “I think the community wants us to focus on other things.”
But the same question gets a different answer from Councillor Jerry Hong.
“I don’t think so,” says Hong. “It is an infrastructure project. Beban Park is old. Sooner or later we’re going to have to rebuild. Either we rebuild it there or rebuild somewhere else. I don’t think this is the end at all.”
The Vote Yes spokesperson says there is still support for an Events Centre.
“It means it’s time to re-sit down and figure out a plan that all citizens wants,” says Tali Campbell. “I heard through the whole campaign trail that an events centre is something that many people want in nanaimo, to grow nanaimo, but not under the location it might have been, or whether it was the current council we’re sitting with, or how much it’s going to cost.”
36 % of eligible voters cast a ballot Saturday. That’s 2 % higher than the last civic election. The plan to borrow $80 million to build an events centre at the waterfront site has been put on ice, at least for now.