It was going to be the first riding outside of Vancouver Island to go Green.
The Green Party was projected to win the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding with candidate Jeremy Volariate, looking like they were finally making inroads on the mainland.
But Elections BC announced Sunday evening that it has finished counting the more than 660,000 mail-in ballots, with the NDP winning 57 seats, Liberals winning 28 seats and the Greens getting two seats.
It’s not the outcome the Greens were hoping for, as they ended up losing the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding to the Liberals.
“With so many mail-in ballots, we’re in uncharted territory. It was a bit of a surprise, the liberals got a good turnout in that riding unlike other parts of the province,” said Michael Prince, a political scientist at the University of Victoria.
On election night, Volariate was declared winner, leading the incumbent Liberal candidate Jordan Sturdy by 604 votes.
But by the time the mail-in ballots were all counted, Sturdy swallowed up that lead, taking the riding by only 41 votes, a 0.17 per cent margin.
“Of course we were really hoping Jeremy would hold his 600 vote lead from elections night,” said Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau.
The leader, who won her riding in the Cowichan Valley, said this seat loss may be a result of people voting earlier than ever.
“We had momentum in the last three weeks of the election, and a lot of the mail-in ballots would have come in the first couple weeks of the election campaign. “It’s just one of those unfortunate outcomes,” said Furstenau.
It leaves Greens now with only two seats in the legislature, and much less pull than before, when they formed a coalition with the NDP, who now have a majority.
“She will not have a balance of power in the legislature like the Greens had before, but that will allow her to travel the province and obviously have a presence with her colleague Adam Olsen in the Legislature and allow her now to continue to build the party,” said Prince.
And the party’s already growing. In this election, the Greens came second in 15 ridings, compared to 6 in 2017.
Even without candidates in 13 ridings, they still managed a 16 per cent popular vote in this election.
It’s momentum Fertenau plans to capitalize on in the next 4 years, hoping to grab more seats in the next provincial election.
“So optimistic about our future. Really, really positive. I think given that we had a five-week campaign and I was one week into being leader; we are very much a rising alternative for people in this province.”
For now, with the Sea to Sky riding so close, an automatic recount will be taking place.