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Editorial: What Cowichan area do I vote in come October?

The political landscape in the Cowichan Valley can be quite complicated and seem convoluted
The Cowichan Valley is made up of nine electoral areas and four municipalities. Residents will elect representatives to their board or council on Oct. 15, 2022. (CVRD WebMap)

We got a call at the office this week from someone who wanted to know who in the Cowichan Valley got to vote for what areas, and how election to the Cowichan Valley Regional District board works.

These are good questions, as for newcomers (and everyone else) the political landscape in the Cowichan Valley can be quite complicated and seem convoluted.

With elections coming up on Oct. 15, and advance voting on Oct. 5 and 11, it seems a good time to lay it out for those who might be confused about which ballots they are marking.

First up, school board. There are seven trustee spots and everyone in the Cowichan Valley (excluding Ladysmith) votes, whether they are in an electoral area, the City of Duncan, Municipality of North Cowichan or the Town of Lake Cowichan. You can mark your ballot for seven or fewer candidates, and there is no ranking order of who is more preferred. You cannot vote for more than seven. Once a board has been chosen by the electorate, the trustees vote for a chair and vice chair.

Those who live outside of a municipality in the Cowichan Valley live in an electoral area. The areas are represented by letters: A (Mill Bay/Malahat), B (Shawnigan Lake), C (Cobble Hill), D (Cowichan Bay), E (Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora), F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls), G (Saltair/Gulf Islands), H (North Oyster/Diamond), I (Youbou/Meade Creek). Electoral areas are represented on the CVRD board by a single director. Only those within an electoral area vote for that area’s director. There are nine electoral area directors in total.

There are four municipalities that are also part of the CVRD: Duncan, Lake Cowichan, North Cowichan and Ladysmith. Residents of each municipality vote for their own mayor and council. You may vote for up to six councillors in North Cowichan, Duncan, and Ladysmith, and four in Lake Cowichan.

The municipalities also have representatives on the CVRD board. North Cowichan, as the municipality with the largest population, has three, while the others have one. These representatives are chosen by the municipalities’ respective mayors. In most cases, the mayor of the municipality sits on the CVRD board, though this is not a requirement.

The directors on the CVRD board, including the representatives of the municipalities, vote for a chair and vice of the board.

Make sure to look at copies of the paper, and check out our election section online in the coming weeks to find out voting locations, and more about the candidates for your area.