West Kelowna  

Kelowna-West incumbent Ben Stewart declared elected

Stewart takes Kelowna West

UPDATED: 10:05 p.m. 

Ben Stewart has been declared elected, and will hold his position in the Kelowna West riding. 

With 71 of the 112 ballot boxes counted, the BC Liberal incumbent has 47.50 per cent of the vote with 4,111 votes. 

It was a close call earlier in the evening between Stewart and NDP candidate Spring Hawes, but Stewart pulled away to a lead, now ranking 15 per cent higher in the votes than Hawes.

Stewart has been elected in the riding since 2018, and previously represented Westside-Kelowna from 2009 to 2013. 

BC Greens candidate Peter Truch has 15 per cent of the vote, followed by Badura and Mitchell, each with about 2 per cent of the vote. 

UPDATED: 9:40 p.m.

More than half of the ballot boxes have now been counted in the Kelowna West riding.

With 67 of 112 boxes counted, the gap between BC Liberal's Ben Stewart and NDP's Spring Hawes has widened.

Stewart now holds about 46 per cent of the vote, followed by Hawes with about 31 per cent of the vote. 

His colleagues in the Kelowna-Mission and Kelowna-Lake Country ridings have both been declared victorious, raising the possibility of a triple win for the Liberals tonight in all three Kelowna ridings. 

Truch has garnered about 16 per cent of the overall vote counted so far in Kelowna West, followed by Badura and Mitchell who each hold less than 3 per cent of the vote. 

Castanet will keep this story updated. 

UPDATED: 9 p.m. 

Initial results in the Kelowna West riding show a close call between incumbent Ben Stewart for the BC Liberals and NDP's Spring Hawes.

Of 112 ballot boxes, 22 have been reported, revealing a difference of less than 10 per cent between the two candidates. 

Stewart is in the lead with 775 votes, followed by 647 for Hawes and 371 for Greens candidate Peter Truch.

Independent Magee Mitchell has 43 votes, and Libertarian Matt Badura has 46 votes - each holding around 2 per cent of the overall vote counted so far. 

Castanet will keep this story updated. 

ORIGINAL: 7 p.m.

BC Liberal candidate Ben Stewart is no stranger to the Kelowna West riding, having held the position of MLA from 2009 to 2013, and as the incumbent heading into tonight's election. 

He's one of five candidates bidding for the seat in Kelowna West, a riding previously known as Westside Kelowna before it was renamed in 2017. 

This year, Stewart is up against the NDP's Spring Hawes, the Green's Peter Truch, Independent candidate Magee Mitchell and Libertarian Matt Badura. 

Stewart received just over 56 per cent of the vote in the Feb. 2018 provincial by-election, getting the tick from 8,406 voters in the area. 

He says campaigning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't without it's difficulties, but teams managed to make it work as best as possible. 

"A lot of our volunteers, which were not seniors but older people, just felt they weren’t very comfortable campaigning door-to-door, so it was a little bit of a different group, new volunteers out on the doors with myself. What I would say is that surprisingly I had a very, very positive response on the doorsteps. People were pleased that I was there, and of course we masked up and had gloves on, so that everything we handed out was protected."

Despite being only an hour away from polls officially closing, Stewart hasn't stopped campaigning, and says a group of 13 volunteers will be at polling stations tonight fighting for every last vote. 

With a strong background in the Kelowna West riding, he remains confident about his chances in the Oct. 24 election. 

"Everybody’s excited, but you never want to count your chickens before they hatch. I did find that for the most part in the polls, and of course it’s probably the best polls that I'm working, but they were very supportive of being re-elected, so I hope that that happens."

As for Greens candidate Peter Truch, the pandemic is the reason he'll be celebrating his efforts with a small gathering in the privacy of his home tonight, instead of hosting a party gathering. 

“That’s probably the biggest thing that I think we’re going to miss out on. All three of us [Greens] would have probably had one centralized location to watch and cheer each other on, and cheer on our leader, and cheer on other candidates across the province. Unfortunately we’re just not able to do that tonight, so each one of us just has a small gathering planned for our respective residences."

He says it's been a whirlwind of a month preparing for the snap election, but he's proud of what they've achieved in the community since the announcement was made. 

"The team and I put in a heroic effort over the last month to try and pull off getting our message out there as much as possible, especially amongst a pandemic and not a lot of time to prepare ... it took absolute lightning speed to get to where we are today. There wasn’t necessarily a lot more we could have done on short notice."

The Kelowna West riding encompasses all of West Kelowna, including Westbank, Glenrosa, Smith Creek, Goats Peak, Shannon Lake, Boucherie, Casa Loma, Traders Cove, Wilson Landing, Fintry and Killiney Beach communities. 

Kelowna West also includes Kelowna's downtown core and the southern portion of the Glenmore area. 

Of the 53,008 registered voters in the Kelowna West riding, 8,968 requested mail-in ballots and 11,013 cast their ballot via advance polling. 

Castanet will be providing live election results throughout the night on site. This story will be updated with riding-specific results. 

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