Linda Hepner celebrates her mayoral win last November.

B.C. rolls out civic election spending plan

Had the legislation been in place in the 2014 election, the main players in Surrey would have spent less.

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

The province is proposing election spending limits on civic government, a move which is hoped to level the playing field in local politics.

The proposed spending limits are tallied on a per-capita basis and will be in effect for the 2018 civic election.

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.

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

Based on Surrey’s population, the limit would be $96,366 for a city councillor and $188,750 for mayor.

If in place for last year’s civic election, the rules would have imposed a cap on spending for all eight Surrey First councillors and mayor to $957,678.

It would have sliced about $250,000 from the spending by Surrey First in 2014, a coalition which spent $1.2 million winning all seats on council.

Mayor Linda Hepner told The Leader Friday she’s comfortable with the proposed spending limits.

She described last year’s election as a “bit of an anomaly” as it was so hotly contested.

“In my 30 years experience… it cost a little more than an ordinary general election,” Hepner said. “This last election was an expensive go-round.”

The Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Peter Fassbender, said in a release Thursday the spending cap would increase with the cost of inflation.

“I think they’ve got this right,” said Dermod Travis, executive director for Integrity B.C., adding the sliding scale of the formula 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.”

If the cap had been in place for last year’s election, mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode would have overspent by $123,917.

She said in an interview that due to sign damage and other incidentals, her group, One Surrey, spent more than it intended.

Nonetheless, Rasode said she welcomes the provincial move to cap election expenses.

“I think it’s really important to have election spending limits,” Rasode said.

She said the proposed legislation is a great start, but there needs to be further reforms to election conduct.

She also wants to see a ban on election signs “for sustainability reasons, but also cost reasons.”

She said the spending limits being introduced create a “level playing field” for independents and others who might not have the same access to capital.

“I’m actually really proud of the campaign we ran,” Rasode said.

Asked if she would run again in 2018, Rasode wouldn’t rule it out.

“In three years, we will be looking at a very different Surrey,” Rasode said. “That decision is not one that I have to make right now.”

Fassbender said in a news release that the spending limits were brought about by wishes of both voters and candidates.

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

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

The government is expected to table the bill on local election spending in the fall sitting of the B.C. legislature and  is taking public comments in a final round of consultations until Nov. 27.

– with files from Jeff Nagel

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘A bag full of garbage every 15 metres’: Surrey industrial area filled with trash

Local workers looking to recruit business, raise funds to help dispose of litter

Survey suggests 83 per cent of Surreyites ‘favour a referendum’ on policing transition

Survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of the National Police Federation

Racist graffiti sparks Cloverdale man to renew calls for City to clean up street

Hate message the latest garbage dumped at the end of 176th Street

Brand new Tesla crashes into Surrey store front, mounts gas line

Driver was heading to the Autoplan store, straight off the lot

Surrey RCMP looking for missing 21-year-old

Police say Kenny Tran was last seen at around 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 19

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

New Alberta forward joins Vancouver Giants’ ranks

new left-handed 18-year-old is a familiar face to Giants head coach Michael Dyck

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Mugging with airsoft gun results in Langley school lockdown

Police found the weapon and a stolen phone later

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Chilliwack physiotherapist charged with sexual assault

Mounties urging other potential victims to make contact

Most Read