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

Local athlete nominated for top B.C. award

Charlie Kain has been involved with Special Olympics since he was 11

Column: Have your say on library funding

Provincial funding for libraries has been stagnant for 10 years

Warming centre overshadows cannabis store at Monday council session

Council also heard about disk golf, city park camping and an RDKB housing survey

Entrepreneurs faced ‘sink or swim’ decision after flood

Grand Forks businesses left with little direction a year after the flood

Christina Lake clean-up a success

A wheelchair, cigarette butts and old tires filled the back of a truck headed to the dump

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read