The budget for Abbotsford’s municipal byelection on Sept. 25 has grown from $300,000 to $400,000.
City council approved the amended amount at its meeting on Monday (July 26), following a staff report that said the initial estimate was based on previous election budgets.
“Following a thorough review of the requirements to conduct a byelection in 2021, the actual costs of the byelection are projected to be closer to $400,000,” the report states.
The staff report says several factors have contributed to the increased costs, including that all 16 polling stations will be open on the second day of advanced polling in order to minimize contact between voters during the pandemic.
Previously, only one station was open for advanced polling.
Additional costs related to more polling stations include staffing and space rentals, the report states.
Another factor is higher postal costs, with mail-in ballots no longer being limited to people in special circumstances. Now, they will be available to anyone who requests one.
“With mail-in balloting now being offered to the entire community, and given that many citizens still have concerns regarding physical proximity to others following COVID restrictions, staff estimate there will be an increase in requested mail-in ballots for this election,” the report states.
Council approved the $300,000 budget at its meeting on July 12, at which time the date of the byelection was officially announced as Saturday, Sept. 25.
The byelection is required to replace former councillor Bruce Banman, who was voted the MLA for Abbotsford South in the October 2020 provincial election.
Those who have already announced their plans to run are Manjit Sohi, Dave Sidhu and Dao Tran.
The nomination period runs from Aug. 10 to 20, and advanced voting will be held Sept. 15 and 18. More information is available on the city’s website at abbotsford.ca/election.