Council discusses municipal spending limits

A letter from the province looking for comments on expense limits in local government elections brought up a bit of discussion

A letter from the province looking for comments on expense limits in local government elections brought up a bit of discussion in  council on Monday.

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development sent out the letter which included a discussion paper on spending limits for local elections.

Currently in B.C. there is no spending limit.

By contrast, in Ontario the limit for a mayoral candidate is $7,500 plus 85 cents per elector, and $5,000 plus 85 cents per elector for council candidates.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said the letter and accompanying discussion provided some good points.

“Right now as you know, it is limitless,” Stetski said. “If you wanted to spend $1 million to get yourself elected in a local municipal election, there is nothing preventing you from doing that currently. Personally, I think this would be a good idea, to put everybody on the same playing field.”

Coun. Gerry Warner wondered whether there were spending limits on the federal electorate.

“Sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander,” Warner said. “They are the senior level of government and they should maybe lead by example.”

Coun. Angus Davis said this was a perfect example of government run riot.

Davis said it was wrong that the UBCM was partnering with the province to tell municipalities how to run an election.

“I think that’s wrong,” Davis said. “We’re paying UBCM to represent us in Victoria and the provincial government is paying them to represent the government to us. That is lousy.”

Davis said in the Southern Interior over expenditure doesn’t happen.

“I bet you if we all looked at every election that was held here in the last 50 years you are so close to the bottom that it would make your head spin,” he said. “All we need is more government people telling us what to do. This stinks and I think we should tell them.”

Stetski said in terms of what’s asked on paper, he didn’t see anything wrong with trying to level the playing field of municipal expenditures.

Davis said the moves reminded him of the Dystopian settings of George Orwell’s novels.

Council received the correspondence for information.