In a very tight election, one Vancouver Island riding has all but assured the B.C. election results won't be known for certain for some time.
The NDP candidate in Courtenay–Comox, Ronna-Rae Leonard, has been declared the winner, taking the riding from the B.C. Liberals — but by a margin of just nine votes.
"This is a really close race here," said Liberal candidate Jim Benninger, a former base commander of CFB Comox.
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"I think we really just have to put a hold on this, and say we'll find out the real answer in two weeks, but I think with this really narrow margin it could go either way."
That slim of a margin would trigger an automatic judicial recount, but absentee ballots also need to be counted, which doesn't happen for nearly two weeks.
Folks, that 9 vote win for the NDP in Courtenay-Comox means we're guaranteed to have no result tonight.— @j_mcelroy
'Historic' night for Greens
Meanwhile, the Green Party had a "historic" night, tripling its seat count, to three, with Adam Olsen winning in Saanich North and the Islands and Sonia Furstenau winning Cowichan Valley; both previously NDP seats.
Furstenau, a director for the Cowichan Regional District, gained prominence fighting the controversial soil dumping at Shawnigan Lake.
In the 2013 election, Olsen finished third in his riding, but it was the tightest race in the province, with the Greens finishing less than 400 votes behind the NDP's Gary Holman. This year's election saw the same three candidates rematch.
"That's a surreal thing to hear," said Olsen as he was introduced as the winner on CBC Radio One's election special.
"I am so deeply honoured to have the support and the trust of the people of Saanich North and the Islands," said Olsen, adding he grew up in the riding and is now raising his children there.
"This is a hell of a day for the province of B.C. It's historic," said Matt Toner, deputy Green leader.
When asked about the possibility of the Greens holding the balance of power in a possible minority scenario, Olsen said at the time his "phone was charging" but that he hadn't discussed it with Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.
Weaver also won his riding of Oak Bay–Gordon Head, after a phone problem delayed reporting of results in that riding.
Incumbents hold ground
For the rest of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, the NDP and Liberals appeared to hold on to their previous seats.
NDP Leader John Horgan has held his seat of Langford–Juan de Fuca, as have most other NDP incumbents:
- Carole James (Victoria–Beacon Hill).
- Nicholas Simons (Powell River–Sunshine Coast).
- Scott Fraser (Mid Island–Pacific Rim).
- Rob Fleming (Victoria–Swan Lake).
- Doug Routley (Nanaimo–North Cowichan).
- Leonard Krog (Nanaimo).
- Claire Trevena (North Island).
- Lana Popham (Saanich South).
The NDP's Mitzi Dean has also been elected in Esquimalt–Metchosin, a riding previously held by three-term NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis.
Liberal Michelle Stillwell, a former cabinet minister in the Clark government, has held her riding of Parksville–Qualicum.
The New Democrats have traditionally had strong support through Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, and in 2013 won all but three of the 15 ridings in that zone.
The Greens made history last election by winning their first seat in the legislature when Weaver — now their leader — won Oak Bay–Gordon Head in Greater Victoria.