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Dateline Cowichan: School trust put into at-large vote
Currently in this school district, the nine trustees are elected at large — each trustee is responsible to the total district population for all its students and schools.
For a few years after the Cowichan and Lake Cowichan districts amalgamated in 1996, six trustees were elected from Cowichan, three from the Lake under a ward system.
Before 1955 and under a primitive ward system, rural representatives from attendance areas in the district chose trustees themselves by voting with a show of hands during a meeting. But in February 1955, ratepayers called for a change that would see trustees elected by secret ballot from the pool of rural representatives. As before, this would be accomplished at meetings of the attendance areas.
Individual organizations appealing for this change included Cobble Hill, South Cowichan, Koksilah, Cowichan Station, Fairbridge, Bench and Bamberton Ratepayers’ Associations; Koksilah Parent Teacher Association, the Cowichan Agricultural Society and the Cowichan Farmers’ Institute.
At a meeting of Koksilah ratepayers, the vote for an at-large, secret ballot was 60 to 2. Opposed was Trustee G. W. Brownlee who said that a change to election at large would involve great expense and probably result in the school areas losing their local representatives.