If new municipal election spending rules that an all-party committee of the B.C. legislature is proposing were in effect last November, Kelowna’s mayor would have overspend in his election campaign by nearly $3,000.
Colin Basran won the mayoral race with a campaign that cost $76,193, nearly three times that of his closest rival, former mayor Sharon Shepherd.
According to the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits, the total he could have spent under its proposed rules and based on population estimates provided by B.C. Stats, was $73,532.
The committee proposed caps and formula-based spending for all municipal election candidates in B.C. Monday, saying the limits are needed to make running for local government accessible and affordable.
Community Minister Coralee Oakes has yet to table legislation making the spending limits law.
But imposing pending limits on municipal candidates is just fine with Basran.
While he he had not heard about the committee’s proposals Monday because he was in a council meeting all day, when told he said he had no problem with setting spending limits as long as they are reasonable.
“Anything that will help get good, quality people to run is fine with me,” said Basran.
But he also cautioned he does not feel money alone wins elections. He said he has seen big spenders fail to win office in the past so it takes more than money to succeed in an election.
According to the committee, based on the current estimated population of the City of Kelonwa (121,000), the maximum a mayoral candidate could spend would be $73,532 and the maximum a councillor candidate could spend would be $37,298.
In last November’s election, the top-spending councillor candidate was Brad Sieben who spent $25,327 to get elected. The second highest was newcomer Tracy Gray who spent $17,187, with the other six successful councillor candidates spending between $3,600 and $8,800.
The committee says mayoral candidates in communities with fewer than 10,000 residents should be limited to spending a maximum of $10,000, while a councillor candidate in those same communities should spend no more than $5,000.
For larger communities, the election spending would be set under the following formula:
• 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
•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 figures released by the committee, that would mean the following limits locally:
Peachland (with a population under 10,000)
The committee also wants third-party advertiser spending 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.
If passed by the B.C. legislature, the province would join Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador in placing spending limits on at least some of their local elections.