Province looks at spending limits for municipal election candidates

No candidates for mayor in Parksville or Qualicum Beach spent more than $10,000 on their campaigns last year

  • Jul. 2, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Candidates for a council seat in a small community should be able to spend no more than $10,000 to run for mayor and $5,000 for a council or school board seat, says a legislature committee on local election financing.

No candidates for mayor in either Qualicum Beach or Parksville spent more than $10,000 in the most recent municipal election campaign. Only one candidate (Michael Donegani) for a council position in the region spent more than $5,000. Donagani spent $6,000 of his own money in an unsuccessful bid for a Parksville city council seat.

For larger communities, a population-based formula would limit a mayoral campaign for a city of 150,000 residents to just under $90,000, with other municipal candidates limited to half that. The formula would limit a candidate for mayor of Victoria, population 80,000, to about $36,000, while Surrey’s population of 470,000 would mean a cap of $180,000 to run for mayor.

The small-town limits apply to communities up to 10,000 residents. For larger ones, mayoral candidates would be limited to $1 per capita for the first 15,000 people, 55 cents per capita up to 150,000, 60 cents per capita for 150,000 to 200,000 and only 15 cents for communities larger than that.

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, who chaired the committee as it toured the province, said the limits are aimed to make running for local government “accessible and affordable,” while recognizing the vast difference between political campaigns in large cities and those in small communities.

The spending limits still have to be endorsed by the legislature, but the B.C. Liberal and NDP members of the committee endorsed them unanimously. They are part of a series of local election reforms that included extending terms to four years.

The committee wants third-party advertisers limited to five per cent of what a mayoral candidate is allowed to spend. The spending limits would be in effect starting on Jan. 1 of each election year.

B.C. is joining Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador in placing spending limits on at least some of their local elections.

­—Black Press/The News

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