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Petition to force referendum in Estevan being verified

City clerk Judy Pilloud outlined some of the next steps now that the petition has been filed.
A conceptual design of how Fourth Street in downtown Estevan could look.

ESTEVAN - An update was provided on the Concerned Citizens' of Estevan Sk's petition that is trying to force a referendum on the downtown revitalization project.

City clerk Judy Pilloud wrote to city council that Greg Curtis, representing the Concerned Citizens, filed the petition at city hall on April 9. It came the day after Curtis and Myles Fichter appeared in front of city council, voicing concerns and asking questions about the project.

Pilloud noted the petition was 163 pages. Once the document arrived, she notified council and the city started consultations with the city solicitor.

As per the Cities Act, Pilloud said if council receives a petition signed by a number of voters, equal to 10 per cent of the population of the community requesting a referendum for a bylaw or resolution on any matter within the jurisdiction of the council, the council shall submit the request to a vote of the voters in a referendum. Only voters of the city were eligible to sign the petition.

With Estevan's population being 10,851 according to the 2021 census, the petition needs to have at least 1,085 signatures. Fichter said they had just under 1,500 signatures.

If the clerk reports to council that a petition for a referendum is sufficient, the council shall take any steps that it considers necessary.

She went on to say that if a petition is filed with the clerk on or before July 1 in any year in which a general election is held, the referendum will be held before the end of that year. At any other time, council will submit the bylaw or resolution to the voters within nine months after the petition is filed.

The wording of the draft bylaw or resolution as it will appear on the ballot must be set by council at least eight weeks before the vote.

Council voted to proceed with efforts to verify the petition. The motion does not mean the referendum will proceed. There is a 30-day window from when Curtis filed the petition for the city to respond.

The next scheduled meeting of Estevan city council is May 13.

Members of the Concerned Citizens were in the gallery for Monday night's meeting.