Tofino, Campbell River residents head to polls in byelections

Voters in Tofino and Campbell River are casting ballots to fill council positions, including two spots left vacant by winners in last fall’s provincial election.

Voters in Tofino are heading to the polls to elect a new mayor and two councillors.

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The byelection was­ ­triggered by former mayor Josie Osborne’s resignation after winning a seat as MLA for ­Mid-Island Pacific Rim in October’s provincial election.

Three candidates are in the running for mayor — J.J. Belanger, general manager of Crystal Cove Beach Resort, and former councillors Andrea McQuade, a restaurant worker and fisher, and artist Dan Law, who resigned their seats in December and opened two council seats on the ballot.

Law was elected to council in a 2019 byelection that drew about 42% of eligible voters, and McQuade in the 2018 general election, where 929 ballots were cast, a 65% turnout.

Advance voting starts today and the last day to request a mail-in ballot is March 4, with general voting scheduled for March 6.

There are six candidates vying for the two councillors’ seats — Jacky Challenger, Zak Cross, Chris Heisterman, Ali Sawyer, Cathy Thicke and Lindsay Whitefield.

Tofino has wrestled with infrastructure and services as it balances the needs of its ­residents and about 600,000 tourists a year who visit the community.

A byelection in Campbell River on Saturday will determine who takes a vacant seat on city council.

Advance voting started on Feb. 17 and continues until today at the Campbell River Community Centre.

Michele Babchuk resigned the seat after being elected North Island MLA in the provincial election.

Running for the seat on council are Ken Blackburn, Douglas Chapman, Kealy Donaldson, Devon Garat, Stephen Jewell, Wes Roed, Laurel Sliskovic and Sean Smyth.

In May, a byelection is set to be held for a seat on Qualicum Beach council, after councillor Adam Walker was elected to the provincial legislature. The town’s council includes one mayor and four councillors. The byelection is set for May 15.

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