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Your Election Primer: the Basics

All candidates meeting Saturday at Whistler Secondary

British Columbia's May 12 election is fast-approaching, and there's a lot for voters know before they mark Xs next to their preferred candidates' names.

First, the candidates. We're all constituents in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, what was formerly the riding of West Vancouver-Garibaldi.

Joan McIntyre is the incumbent and is the B.C. Liberal Party candidate. Juliana Buitenhuis is the candidate for the New Democratic Party and Tim Stephenson is the candidate for the Green Party of British Columbia.

Next, the issues. They are manifold in this election. Issues pertaining specifically to the Sea to Sky region include anything from environment to First Nations.

Environmentally, run of river power generation has exploded as an election issue in the past few months. It's a form of power generation that diverts the flow of a river into a penstock or tunnel and generates electricity using the flow of the river.

The Liberals feel it's an essential way to meet B.C.'s energy needs, while the NDP and the Greens want to stop development of all such projects. The NDP feels such projects amount to privatizing public resources when private companies produce them. The Greens want to stop them until a new environmental assessment process can be developed.

Where First Nations are concerned, there's some consternation across the province about the treaty process as prescribed by the B.C. Treaty Commission. The Liberals say they have made great progress with First Nations under the treaty process; the other parties disagree. Just before the election the government signed a bilateral understanding with the negotiator for the In-SHUCK-ch Nation, located east of Pemberton.

The Greens think the process is taking too long and "not adequately addressing" First Nations' needs. The NDP wants to "fast-track" those negotiations and settle land claims, as well as provide better housing and health care.

To vote on any of these issues you need to take care of a few things first. Number one, ensure you have the right identification. Every voter needs one piece of government-issued photo ID. That can be a B.C. identification card, certificate of Indian status or otherwise.

That, or you can bring two documents that contain the voter's name. At least one of these must contain the voter's residential address. Those documents can be property tax assessments, government cheques, or income tax assessment notices, among other things.

Voters without the necessary identification can have a voter in their electoral district vouch for them at the polling booth. This person must have the necessary ID, be a direct family member or be someone with the legal authority to make personal care decisions for the voter.

If you're going to be away on May 12 you can go to the advanced polling booths, which will be open from May 6 through 9, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Advanced polling for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky will be happening in three locations: the Westin Resort in Whistler; Brennan Park Recreation Centre in Squamish; and Gleneagles Community Centre in West Vancouver.

There's a few more places to vote on May 12. On that day you can go to any of the following to cast your ballot:

Bowen Island Community School, Bowen Island

Caulfield Elementary School, West Vancouver

Cypress Park Primary School, West Vancouver

Lions Bay Community Hall, Lions Bay

N'Quatqua Community Hall, D'Arcy

Pemberton Community Centre, Pemberton

Ts'zil Learning Centre, Mount Currie

West Bay Elementary School, West Vancouver

The pre-registering period for the election is now over, so if you haven't registered to vote yet you'll have to do it at the polling station.

If you care to learn about the issues the best way to do that would be to go to all-candidates meetings. There are two remaining meetings that will take place in the Sea to Sky corridor.

The next one is happening Saturday, May 2 at Whistler Secondary School, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. After that there'll be one in Squamish on May 4 at the Sea to Sky Hotel Ballroom. That'll run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.