The new council of Bonaparte Band at their swearing-in on May 17. (from l) Chief Frank Antoine; Coun. Neil Antoine; Coun. Keith Zabotel; Kristopher Billy (on behalf of his mother, Coun. Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet); Coun. Michelle Canaday; Elder Julie Antoine (front). (Photo credit: Bonaparte Band)

The new council of Bonaparte Band at their swearing-in on May 17. (from l) Chief Frank Antoine; Coun. Neil Antoine; Coun. Keith Zabotel; Kristopher Billy (on behalf of his mother, Coun. Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet); Coun. Michelle Canaday; Elder Julie Antoine (front). (Photo credit: Bonaparte Band)

Local elections at Bonaparte and Ashcroft bands, Spences Bridge

Changes at Bonaparte and Spences Bridge while Ashcroft remains the same

There have been changes at the Bonaparte Band and the Spences Bridge Improvement District (SBID), and no change at the Ashcroft Band, following recent elections in all three communities.

Elections were held at the Bonaparte Band on May 3, and at the Ashcroft Band on May 6. The SBID held an election on May 15.

At Bonaparte, Frank Antoine — who previously served one term as a councillor — was elected chief. Dr. Verna Minnabarriet and Neal Antoine, who both served as councillors from 2019 to 2021, were re-elected, and former councillor Keith Zabotel was also elected. Michelle Canaday rounds out the new council, and will be serving as councillor for the first time.

There was no change at the Ashcroft Band, where Greg Blain remains chief and Dennis Pittman and Earl Blain remain as councillors. The band will be continuing with the many projects it has at various stages, including a new sports facility and a campground.

In Spences Bridge there were two (of three) trustee seats available on the board of the Improvement District. Trustee Ross Figley’s seat was up for election, as was that of former chair Michael Jefferson, who no longer owns property in the community and is therefore not eligible to sit on the board. His resignation took effect as of May 15.

Four candidates — including Figley — were vying for the two positions, in an election process that was fraught with controversy after it was announced that mail-in ballots would not be accepted. It meant that any eligible voters (property owners) who do not live in the community would have to vote in-person, possibly in defiance of COVID-19 travel restrictions and at the risk of fines.

Despite intervention by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which suggested that the May 15 election be considered an advance vote, and that the election be postponed until COVID-19 restrictions have eased, the board decided to continue as announced.

When the votes were tallied, Wanda Dickenson had 39 votes; Eugenie Moreira and Carol Coates each had 36 votes; and Figley had 34 votes. As two candidates tied, a draw was held, with Moreira the winner. She and Dickenson will be joining Cheryl Klyne as SBID trustees, and have said that re-certifying the community’s first responders will be a priority.

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