Voter turnout for advance polls, such as this one at Elks Hall in White Rock, increased from the last federal election. (File photo)

Voter turnout for advance polls, such as this one at Elks Hall in White Rock, increased from the last federal election. (File photo)

Voters’ priorities vary at South Surrey-White Rock polling station

Housing, affordability, environment were reoccurring themes

Voter turnout was slow-but-steady at the White Rock Seventh-Day Adventist Church Monday morning– one of several voting stations throughout the South Surrey-White Rock riding.

Residents casting their vote at the church on the final – rainy – day of the 2019 federal election didn’t have to deal with a lineup, however an organizer told Peace Arch News the poll station was “very busy” during advance polls.

In fact, across the country, advance poll turnout jumped by 29 per cent since the 2015 election. An estimated 4.7 million Canadians cast their ballots instead of leaving it until the final day.

Spotlight on B.C.: 12 races to watch on Election Day

In the final hours of the election, PAN spoke to a number of people who were en-route to cast their ballot, and all seemed to have made up their mind as to who deserves their vote.

Half a dozen voters were asked what the most important issue is to them this election. Cost of living, housing affordability, environment and the economy were the reoccurring issues.

“Affordability, health, trust,” Gael Howard said of her top three issues, adding “I think I’m going Green.”

Larry Ecklund said it was his first time voting in B.C. Ecklund, who moved here from Ontario, learned that he was at the wrong voting station, but expressed no concern about driving to his proper poll.

“Honesty of the new leader,” is what Ecklund described as his most important issue, adding that he would be voting Conservative.

“Bring down the debt,” said another voter, who did not provide her name.

Housing-related issues were most important for Tony Caines. Caines said he grew up in Edmonton and purchasing a home wasn’t as nearly as challenging – in terms of affordability and availability – as it is today. He expressed concern for his son, who rents a 700-square-foot apartment.

Caines said he will be voting Conservative.

RELATED: South Surrey-White Rock candidates have their say

Rita Backus, who voted at a different station but was waiting for the bus near the Adventist church, said she has traditionally been an NDP supporter, but voted differently this time around.

The environment was Backus’ biggest concern, which is why she voted Green. A factor, she said, was the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline by the Trudeau Liberal government.

Carole McCarthy and her friend, who did not provide her name, said housing affordability is the single-biggest issue for both of them. Both women, each retired and living on a fixed income, are renters.

McCarthy said her rent goes up every year, which is allowed and controlled by law.

“If it gets any more than what my rent is right now, I’ll have to go back to Ontario and be with my family. Live together,” McCarthy said.

Her friend said she’s in the same position.

McCarthy didn’t say who she was going to vote for, but did offer a clue.

“I can’t say yet. I’m choosing someone who has been here long-term and has lots of experience,” McCarthy said, adding that her candidate also takes housing affordability seriously.

Candidates for the South Surrey-White Rock riding include Beverly ‘Pixie’ Hobby (Green); Stephen Crozier (NDP); Joel Poulin (PPC); Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Conservative) and Gordie Hogg (Liberal).

RELATED: Polls now open in Canada’s 2019 federal election

Polls opened at 7 a.m. this morning and will close at 7 p.m. Voters are required to bring a piece of photo identification and their voting card. If a voter did not receive their voting card, they can still go to the poll to register.

Voting poll locations can be found on the elections.ca website.

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