The results of the referendum are a strong indication that Sudburians are overwhelmingly in favour of deregulation with 61.12% of those who voted voting yes to question 1 (Boxing Day), 62.38% indicating yes to question 2 (Civic Holiday) and 75.46% voting yes to question 3 (general retail hours).
In order to achieve a binding result on the referendum questions, at least 50% of voters needed to answer each referendum question. The city has announced that although an overall 50.7% voter turnout was achieved this election, the response rate for the specific referendum questions was a bit shy of reaching the needed 50% requirement, making the results not binding.
The chamber is still seeking to confirm the final number of eligible voters. “We still need clarification. Our understanding was that citizens abstaining from voting would still be considered a vote towards the question. There are a lot of questions we are seeking answers to,” says André Dumais, co-chair of our deregulation working group.
“What we do know however is that Sudburians have spoken loud and clear that they want deregulation. Look at the numbers. There is nothing preventing the new council from taking action on what the voters want,” adds Dumais. “We still consider this a win.”
The chamber is committed to working with the new council and Mayor to ensure action steps are taken to repeal the bylaws.
“We are proud of our campaign but our work is not done here. We will be working with the new council and Mayor to make sure this is one of the first agenda items. With clear evidence of an overwhelming yes vote on all three referendum questions, we really believe the new council and Mayor will push this forward and respect the wishes of the voters,” says John Querney, co-chair of the chamber’s deregulation working group.
“We have a lot of new faces on council and we’re optimistic. We really believe council will show leadership in pushing this issue forward. The Mayor-elect has already made indications that he will bring this to the council table. We are hopeful,” adds Querney.
According to a chamber mock ballot survey sent to candidates prior to the election asking them to respond to each of the referendum questions, 6 candidates who will be taking office indicated that they support question 3 (allowing retail owners the choice of establishing their own hours of operation) and 2 candidates responded that they did not want to comment with a yes or no
answer but indicated that they are committed to following through with the wishes of their ward, even if a binding result is not achieved.
The first meeting of the new council is scheduled for December 9th, 2014. The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce will continue to work to ensure these bylaws are repealed once and for all.
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