Local election spending caps advance

Limits to rein in big-budget municipal campaigners to take effect for 2018 elections

Dermod Travis is executive director of Integrity B.C.

The Wild West days of unlimited spending in municipal election campaigns are about to end.

The provincial government has tabled legislation that will cap how much would-be mayors and councillors can spend on advertising and other costs in future election years, starting in 2018.

The permitted spending amounts vary by the size of each municipality according to a population-based formula.

It works out to $10,000 for mayoral candidates in cities of up to 10,000 people, rising to $89,250 for a population of 150,000, and reaching $149,250 for a city of 250,000.

An extra 15 cents per capita is added after 250,000 for the biggest cities, meaning a mayoral campaign would be capped at $188,750 in Surrey and about $208,000 in Vancouver.

Spending by councillors, regional district directors and school trustees would be capped at half the limit of mayors in their areas.

“I think they’ve got this right,” said Dermod Travis, executive director for Integrity B.C., adding the sliding scale reflects the different needs of small and large communities.

“It’s unfortunate the other half of the equation is not being tackled at the same time, which would be donations. But I think they’ve found a good middle for where those caps should be on expenses.”

It will make it harder for well-funded candidates to use advertising firepower to beat their opponents, he predicted.

“You’re going to see less money getting spent, which means candidates have to raise less money. Which means that they’re actually going to have to campaign more in terms of meeting voters rather than buying ads.”

The recommendations were developed by a special legislative committee and have support of both the BC Liberals and NDP, as well as the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Travis said the new spending caps would have forced many winning candidates to spend less than they did in the 2014 local government elections.

According to the committee report, 31 mayoral candidates and 69 council candidates across B.C. spent more last year than the proposed new limit will allow.

The expense limits would apply from Jan. 1 of the election year until voting day.

Third-party advertisers are to be limited to spending no more than five per cent of the cap of a candidate within a 28-day campaign period, up to a cumulative maximum of $150,000 province-wide.

The government is taking public comments in a final round of consultations until Nov 27 before the bill is expected to pass.

Just Posted

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Free parking not in the cards for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chair says board may look at ways to make parking easier, but not free

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Family of B.C. wildfire victim wants better emergency preparedness for vulnerable people

Williams Lake’s David Jeff “fell through the cracks”

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Where Canadians buy real estate abroad: report

Hot Spots: Top 30 home-buying destinations for Canadians in the Americas

Ban on grizzly bear hunt, new rules take effect April 1

Taxidermists, tanners will have to report on any grizzly bears or parts brought to them

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

LISTEN: Retired broadcaster gives voice to Fraser Valley history

Heritage buff Mark Forsythe introduces Valley Voices, a podcast featuring local history.

Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

Most Read