Parents of students who attend Uplands Park Elementary School have reservations about possible use of the facility as a polling station. Elections B.C. said voting stations have not yet been determined. (Chris Bush/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

Vancouver Island parents say schools not appropriate voting stations

Elections B.C. says site of polling stations not yet determined, working with Dr. Henry’s office

Parents in north Nanaimo are concerned that their children’s school could be used as a polling station in the upcoming provincial election.

The Uplands Park Elementary School parent advisory council recently wrote the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school board stating schools aren’t appropriate buildings for balloting. Erin Race, Uplands PAC treasurer, said she is against the practice whether there is a COVID-19 pandemic or not.

“During COVID parents aren’t even allowed to go into the school, so certainly the general public should not be entering the school doing polling in my opinion … There’s lots of empty retail spaces available to set up a polling station,” Race told the News Bulletin.

At the school district’s board meeting Wednesday night, Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer, said the district may have no choice about whether schools are used as voting stations.

“I will have to confirm with the legislation. My understanding is that we do have an obligation to make our schools available if [Elections B.C.] needs them,” Walsh said at the meeting. “We do understand however that the election date is Oct. 24, which is a Saturday. We’re already prepared to have individuals come in, that would be funded by [Elections B.C.], as typically they are, and be able to have the school completely ready to go Monday.”

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If there is advanced voting in schools, Walsh is under the assumption it would take place on the weekend, and again staff would be available for cleaning, “at the expense of Elections B.C.”

Melanie Hull, Elections B.C. spokesperson, told the News Bulletin voting stations are being confirmed and will be posted to its website, www.elections.bc.ca, when information is available. The information will also be available in community newspapers and on voter cards.

In addition, Hull said Elections B.C. has been working with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer to ensure it can conduct the election safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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