Cariboo Regional District Director Mary Sjostrom said they will have to go back to the drawing board in the wake of the failed referendum to borrow up to 20 million dollars for the project.
“I think we need to really understand some of the objections that we’ll be hearing on the project, and I think too that this is an opportunity for us to revisit the project, improve the messaging and seek some additional feedback from the public.”
Asked if there could be another referendum down the road, Sjostrom said that anything is possible.
“That is a decision of the Joint Planning Committee and the Board of the Cariboo Regional District who ultimately endorses. I think we need to step back and look to see what will the next steps be because certainly voter turnout was considerably less than what it was in 2014 for the arena. So we really need to look at, if we were to go again, we need to really look at timing and what will best work to get a good voter turnout.”
The final tally was 1,001 votes no and 941 in favour.
As for why the vote failed, Sjostrom had a few ideas.
“I think maybe the referendum question and the understanding of the financing, understanding sub regional rec, and I’m not sure that’s something we can ever truly accomplish as there has always been confusion, but I think just understanding the partnership that we have with the city and the Cariboo Regional District.”
Sjostrom also felt that COVID didn’t help as they couldn’t communicate in some of the more traditional ways that they have in the past.
“I think it did, but you have to work within the parameters that you were given. Lots would say that we communicated very, very well and we did communicate in a lot in a lot of different venues. But on the other hand, this is a community that is used to being able to meet one on one and ask questions, and we were prevented from doing that because of COVID.’
Sjostrom says community meetings and open houses would have been nice, but she said she feels they did a relatively good job given what was available to them.