Lia Versaevel will be making a presentation during an information meeting on B.C.’s upcoming referendum on changes to the voting system. (Photo submitted)

Lia Versaevel will be making a presentation during an information meeting on B.C.’s upcoming referendum on changes to the voting system. (Photo submitted)

Chemainus United Church hosting information meeting on electoral reform

Mail-in referendum on changes to B.C.’s voting system beginning in a month

Chemainus United Church is hosting an information meeting on B.C.’s upcoming referendum on proposed changes to the voting system.

Sponsored by the Chemainus Residents Association, Chemainus United Church and Saltair District Ratepayers Association, the session takes place next Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Chemainus United Church, 9814 Willow St. Everyone is welcome and donations of non-perishable food items for the Chemainus Harvest House Food Bank will be graciously accepted.

The mail-in referendum from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30 is fast approaching.

“Few people are aware of the referendum and even fewer are aware of the issues involved,” noted event organizer John Silins.

The referendum will determine what kind of electoral system people want in B.C. A proportional representation alternative is being considered to the traditional ‘first past the post system.’

The Chief Electoral Officer has selected the official referendum proponent and opponent groups. Each group has been allocated $500,000 to be used for public information campaigns.

Lia Versaevel has agreed to lead the information session. She will explain the two systems, review electoral systems used in other Western democracies and detail the options on the B.C. referendum ballot.

Versaevel has worked as a mediator and educator for the last 40 years. She holds an M.A. degree from Royal Roads in Conflict Analysis and Management and two degrees from UVic, a B.A. in Sociology and a graduate degree in Public Service Management.

“You can’t have too much information,” Versaevel stressed. “Let’s have an informed, objective and respectful gathering to learn all that we can about this sometimes divisive subject. There are so many models and so much research. Let’s get the facts on the table and get engaged in the systems that govern us. If we’re not part of the solution, we are left to be part of the problem. Civic engagement begins with knowing what’s at stake and making your vote count.”

After her presentation, representatives from the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sides have agreed to participate in the subsequent discussion and question and answer sessions.