Promised municipal election spending limits introduced

Though he spend more in 2014 than would now be allowed, Kelowna's mayor says he has no problem with the proposed spending limits.

The province has carried through with its promise to limit how much municipal election candidates can spend to get elected.

As the Capital News first reported in July, the limit for mayoral spending in a city the size of Kelowna will be less than the current mayor, Colin Basran, spent to win the mayor’s chair in last year’s municipal election.

Last week, Community Minister Peter Fassbender introduced legislation capping both candidate spending and the spending of third-party advertisers in future municipal elections in B.C.

Under the new rules, spending would be based on population, with those running for mayor in municipalities with a population of less than 10,000 limited to a flat $10,000 maximum. Councillor and school trustee candidates in small communities would be limited to spending $5,000 each on their campaigns.

In larger centres the spending for mayoral races would be capped at the following rates:

Mayoralty candidates:

  • First 15,000 population—$1/ person
  • 15,000 to 150,000 population—$0.55/person
  • 150,000 to 250,000 population—$0.60/person
  • More than 250,000—$0.15/person

Councillor candidates:

•First 15,000 population—$0.50/ person

  • 15,000 to 150,000 population—$0.28/person
  • 150,000 to 250,000 population—$0.30/person
  • More than 250,000—$0.08/person

According to the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits, which recommended the municipal spending cap to government, that would mean the following limits locally based on population figures it used at the time:

Kelowna

mayor: $73,532

councillor: $37,298

West Kelowna

mayor $24,734

councillor: $12,456

Lake Country

mayor: $13,015

councillor: $6,508

Peachland (with a population under 10,000)

mayor: $10,000

councillor: $5,000

In last year’s civic vote, Basran spent $76,193, the most ever spent by a Kelowna municipal candidate.

When he reported spending, Basran defended it, saying he was proud of the amount of money he raised and spent, and it showed the level of support he had in the community.

But he added if the new limits will help get quality candidates to run in municipal elections, he would have no problem with them.

Basran’s closest challenger, former mayor Sharon Shepherd, spend  third of what Basran spent.

As for the successful councillor candidates from the 2014 Kelowna race, none spent what would be the new maximum.

Coun Brad Sieben spent the most at $25,327, followed by another new comer, Tracy Gray, who spent $17,187. The six other successful candidates all spent less than $8,800 on their campaigns.

When the committee made its recommendations about civic spending limits, it said it did so in order to make running for municipal councils and boards of education more affordable and accessible for those who want to seek public office.