By Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Regina– After a major blizzard shut down highways, blew in roads, caused power outages and walloped much of central Saskatchewan in over a foot of snow, the provincial government is allowing municipalities to postpone their local elections today, despite polls having already opened.
In a press release issued at 9:50 a.m. on election day, Monday, Nov. 9, the province said, “Due to the record-setting snowfall and hazardous conditions on Saskatchewan roads, the Government of Saskatchewan is authorizing municipalities and school divisions to postpone their elections, where conducting a general election is being significantly impeded by the weather.
“Given the uncertainty of the situation and because not all municipalities may be affected to the same extent, a Ministerial Order has been signed by Government Relations Minister Lori Carr to allow each municipality’s appointed returning officer to postpone the elections.”
This Order allows: “If in the opinion of a Returning Officer appointed under the Act, the weather conditions on November 9, 2020, impede the ability for voters to attend the poll(s) in order to vote, including in situations where voting day polls have already opened, the Returning Officer may postpone the general election of the municipality, school division or ward, as the case may be, scheduled to take place on November 9, 2020 to a date on or before November 25, 2020.”
This Order does not mean elections across the province are postponed, rather each local returning officer will have the authority to postpone an election if needed. Local returning officers should exercise this authority with caution and clearly communicate with their citizens regarding any changes in their election day.
The safety of citizens is the first priority of the Government of Saskatchewan, the release noted. “In signing this order, safety can also continue to be ensured at a local level during these elections,” it concluded.
In the Prince Albert area, all municipal elections were set to go forward as planned. Several candidates, including Darryl Hickie and Evert Botha, were offering rides to polling stations for anyone stuck. For more information, see their Facebook pages. Ward 6 candidate Blake Edwards volunteered and shoveled snow at Carlton Park Hall, where Ward 6 voters will vote today.
Several others — including non-politicians, were posting to Facebook offering to shovel driveways or take people who are snowed in to the polls.
City transit was cancelled Monday due to the snow. Transit was set to be free to assist people with voting.
Polls, though, remained open.
Other cities, such as Swift Current, took advantage of the province’s move and postponed their election. That city, though, received more snow than Prince Albert saw over 24 hours.
Polls close at 8 p.m.
— With files from Peter Lozinski