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Province proposes civic election expense limits

Limits will apply to candidates running for mayor, council, electoral area directors, and school board trustees

Trevor Crawley

The B.C. government is looking at implementing campaign expense limits for civic elections, in legislation that was tabled on Thursday in Victoria.

Under the proposed legislation, limits will apply to candidates running for mayor, council, electoral area directors, and school board trustees, as well as to third-party advertising sponsors.

There won't be any immediate impact on expense limits; the proposed legislation sets out a framework, while actual amounts will be set by regulation.

Some of the specific changes include:

•For candidates in election areas with less than 10,000 people, the proposed expense limits establish a flat rate of $10,000 for mayoral candidates and $5,000 for all other locally elected offices.

•For election areas with more than 10,000 people, a per-capita formula determines expense limits.

•Expense limits for candidates and electoral organizations would apply from Jan. 1 of the election year to election day (the third Saturday of October).

•Proposed expense limits for third-party advertising sponsors would be five per cent of the expense limit of a candidate in the local election area, with a cumulative, province-wide maximum of $150,000 applicable during a 28-day campaign program.

Expense limits for candidates apply from Jan. 1 of election year until General Voting Day.

"British Columbians and election participants expressed their support for expense limits for local government elections," said Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

"The proposed legislation reflects the recommendations of the special committee. In addition, we are honouring our commitment to the recommendations of the joint B.C.-Union of British Columbia Municipalities Local Government Elections Task Force in 2010 that expense limits be implemented for all campaign participants."

In the last civic election, current Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt claimed $13,700 in campaign expenses, while Wayne Stetski, who was running for re-election, claimed $8,641 in expenses.

Tabling the legislation in the fall session will allow a final opportunity for public consultation, as comments will be accepted until Nov. 27. Feedback can be delivered online at: