Where you live and where you vote

Two lists of candidates, released a week apart, reflect address changes. The list on the right was the Final Declaration of Candidates (click photo to enlarge)

To some voters, it matters a great deal: they want to elect members of council who live in Victoria.

That means people in touch with the city in a personal way, who directly share the impact of their decisions with the rest of us, like higher taxes or street maintenance.

Others voters are happy to elect any resident of the region who will do a good job on council. So what if they live in Saanich or Oak Bay?

But I suspect many others simply don’t know where their current councillors and candidates live. And if they wanted to find out, it would take some work.

The City lists all the candidates’ addresses in Victoria, BC, reflecting their mailing addresses as designated by Canada Post. Only when you compare some of these street addresses with a regional map will you discover that Councillors Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Marianne Alto live in Saanich and challenger Ted Smith lives in Cobble Hill, well over the Malahat.

There is a legal side to this issue: candidates are required by provincial law to include their residential address in their nomination papers. Failure to comply with this law, the Local Government Act, could lead to a Provincial Court challenge by any resident asking a judge to drop a candidate from the ballot.

This discussion over residence, brought forward by local campaign watchers, was apparently one factor that led the City to issue an amended “Declaration of Candidates” list last Friday, changing several addresses. The first list was released the previous Friday on the 14, the day nominations closed.

On the new list, Alto’s address was switched from Broughton Street, the downtown Victoria location of her campaign office, to Lorraine Road, her home in Saanich. Some smaller errors were also fixed, like Councillor candidate James Harasymow’s Battery Street address number.

Thornton-Joe and Alto both claim deep roots in Victoria with family property in the city. Ted Smith operates the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (formerly Ted’s Books) in downtown Victoria, so his roots also run deep, in a literal sense, since he sells plant-based products. And he often resides in Victoria, sleeping at the club on Johnson Street, perhaps dreaming of a seat on city council, which meets just 2 1/2 blocks away.