Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits, Public consultations. Deadline: November 19, 2014

BC LegislatureBritish Columbians are invited to submit their ideas on how to implement elections expense limits for municipal elections. Submissions can be made to the committee at a public hearing, via a questionnaire, or in writing. Submissions will be accepted until November 19, 2014. Further details are available on the website for the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits.

Why is this so important? Vancouver has the most expensive civic elections in the Canada. Currently there are no spending limits in the City or in the entire province; any donation from any source may be accepted by political parties. We have a full list of shortcomings of the current legislation in an earlier post. The next round of election finance reform will hopefully bring meaningful finance reform to civic elections in British Columbia.

The upcoming dates for the Public Hearings are as follows:

Vancouver: Friday, November 7, 2014, 1:30pm – 5pm. (580 West Hastings)
Vancouver: Sunday, November 8, 2014, 9am to noon (580 West Hastings)

Victoria: Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 2:45 – 5pm (Parliament Bldgs, Room 226)
Victoria: Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 10am to noon (Parliament Bldgs, Room 226)

Both individuals and organizations can register to make presentations at the Public Hearing.

Further information on the Committee can be found in a press release.Spending_circle_chart_2011_e

We’ve reproduced the terms of reference for the Committee below: Continue reading

Shaw TV Channel 4 – Decision 2014 – Mayoral Debates Televised – 14 Municipalities

Shaw TV mayoral debate logoShaw TV (Channel 4) is holding televised mayoral debates for 14 municipalities in the Metro Vancouver region. Below is the link to the schedule. Each debate is broadcast twice. (Table 1 belowis alphabetical. Table 2 is chronological.) Vancouver gets two debates. This schedule is as of Oct 30. We encourage you to check the official website for possible changes.

(MetroVanWatch hopes that one topic will be increased transparency and accountability of Metro Vancouver (GVRD): “If elected, will you work to have Metro Vancouver immediately introduce live and archived web video of ALL Director and Committee meetings?”)

Official website: http://www.shaw.ca/Decision2014/MayoralDebates/

 TABLE 1: ALPHABETICAL ORDER First Airtime Repeat Airtime
Abbotsford: October 29 at 10:00pm November 8 at 9:00pm
Burnaby: October 27 at 9:00pm November 6 at 10:00pm
Coquitlam: October 28 at 9:00pm November 7 at 10:00pm
Langley City: November 5 at 9:00pm November 13 at 10:00pm
Langley Town: November 4 at 10:00pm November 12 at 9:00pm
Maple Ridge: October 28 at 10:00pm November 7 at 9:00pm
Mission: November 3 at 9:00pm November 11 at 10:00pm
North Vancouver City: October 31 at 9:00pm November 10 at 10:00pm
New Westminster: November 4 at 9:00pm November 12 at 10:00pm
Port Coquitlam: November 3 at 10:00pm November 11 at 9:00pm
Port Moody: October 30 at 9:00pm November 9 at 10:00pm
Richmond: October 29 at 9:00pm November 8 at 10:00pm
Surrey: October 30 at 10:00pm November 9 at 9:00pm
Vancouver: October 27 at 10:00pm November 6 at 9:00pm
Vancouver #2: October 31 at 10:00pm November 10 at 9:00pm

The table below shows chronological order. Continue reading

Schlenker v Torgrimson, 2013 BCCA 9: A case about conflicts of interest of elected officials

City Hall at nightWe are posting links to this legal case here as a handy reference for citizens of British Columbia, and may add and refer to it later.  The case relates to conflicts of interest of elected officials at the municipal level. For people interested in civic affairs, it is worth a read and keeping in mind.

B.C Court of Appeal

On appeal from: Supreme Court of British Columbia, January 13, 2012
(Schlenker v. Torgrimson, 2012 BCSC 41, Victoria Docket 11-4036)

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/13/00/2013BCCA0009.htm

Two elected officials, the respondents, voted to authorize the Local Trust Committee for Salt Spring Island to enter into and pay $4,000 each for two contracts with societies of which they were directors. The judgement is an interesting read.

Excerpt:

The public is disadvantaged by the conflict, whether the respondents derived any personal gain
or not, because the public did not have the undivided loyalty of their elected officials.
(Schlenker v. Torgrimson, 2013 BCCA 9)

Law firm Fulton and Company LLP has a three page summary of the case.
http://www.lgma.ca/assets/Misc/LGMA-UBCM~Conflict~of~Interest~Provisions~in~the~Community~Charter/Fulton-Company.pdf

Petition to stop the giveaway of public housing in Strathcona (Stamps Place)

Stamps PlaceReproduced below is the text of a petition to ask BC Housing to stop their plans to transfer the ownership of Stamps Place. The full petition is available here.

Our Place, Our Home – Don’t give it away!
To: Minister of Housing Rich Coleman, BC Housing, and the BC Government

Dear Minister Coleman,

We request that you cancel plans to transfer the Stamps Place complex to a non-profit organization and ask that you instead work with residents and community partners in developing a comprehensive, place-based housing strategy for the property.

Stamps Place is the only family-oriented social housing complex in Vancouver’s inner city. At a time when the city is struggling to find solutions to house low-income families and seniors — and during Homelessness Action Week — the provincial action is confounding. The province’s Families First agenda would indicate that they should continue to support vulnerable families in this neighbourhood. Instead, BC housing is getting rid of a public asset — Federal lands which had been transferred to the Province in the last decade — without involving the residents and community affected.

Please take the time to involve the community in this decision.

**************

Explanation: Why is this important?

BC Housing posted a notice to identify non-profit housing providers interesting in purchasing the Stamps Place Housing Complex. The request as posted October 6th and closes November 3rd. Residents had no warning and will have no say in which non-profit will be selected. Continue reading

Rebranding Planning Department to Development Services?

Development and Building Services Centre
VanCity buildingThe Planning Department recently relocated from the East Wing of City Hall on Yukon Street to the Vancity building at Cambie and West 10th Avenue.

During the process of relocation, has the “Planning” part of the department’s title been lost? A number of signs point to the new offices in the Vancity building. The signs are labelled as the “New Development & Building Services Centre.”

The ground floor level of the Vancity building on West 10th Avenue is again simply labelled as “Development and Building.” Has something been lost in the move?

Of course, there’s far more to the Planning Department than merely development and building services. The main offices are located upstairs. On the ground floor, there are opportunities for the public to review drawings for a rezoning or development permit application proposal in person.

The Chief planner’s title of “Director of Planning” was recently changed to “General Manager, Planning and Development Services at the City of Vancouver.” Does the City increasingly see development and housing as a commodity? Continue reading

Lessons from Toronto’s municipal election: High voter turnout, ward system, many debates and financial disclosure. Vancouver, compare!

University of TorontoToday the City of Toronto has a new mayor. The decision was made with a 64.3% voter turnout. That means 974,363 voters went to the polls.

All three of the main mayoral candidates voluntarily released their list of donors prior to the election.

The high voter turnout was in part aided by a high turnout at the advance polls where a total of 161,147 ballots were cast.

Toronto has a 44 member City Council and a ward system. Political parties are banned. There are strict limits on campaign contributions. No corporate contributions are allowed for Mayoral or Council candidates, and individuals who contribute must reside in the Province of Ontario. Over 50 mayoral debates were held.

What are the lessons that could be applied to municipal elections in Vancouver? Why did the B.C. Provincial government fail to address these topics for the 2014 civic elections? Rules for City Council are compared below:Election Campaign Rules, Toronto vs Vancouver, CityHallWatchCityHallWatch has covered these topics many times. For example, “Bills 20, 21 passed 3rd reading yesterday in Legislature, permitting unlimited $$$ big money, 4-year terms in 2014 civic elections” (2-May-2014), and “Independent MLA Vicki Huntington’s bid for BC local election reform shot down” (6-May-2014). (Mainstream media tend to provide these topics far too little coverage, and much too late to make a difference. They are failing our society by failing to report this kind of stuff properly or with enough attention.) In B.C. this year, the NDP, Greens, and an independent tried to improve the draft legislation, but the BC Liberals rammed through the imperfect legislation we now have, and made vague promises for more reforms for the next civic elections, in 2018.

The regulations surrounding campaign contributions in Toronto list a number of limits and conditions:

Contribution limit

The maximum amount a person can give to any one candidate (either in money, good or services), regardless of the number of offices the candidate is nominated for during the election period, is

  • $2,500 for mayoralty candidates

$750 for councillor or trustee candidates

Contributions to multiple candidates

A person may give contributions to multiple candidates, however; there is a limit on how much the person can give to all candidates in each election.

  • a person can give a total of $5,000 to all candidates running for Toronto Council (mayor and councillor), and
  • a person can give a total of $5,000 to school board trustees running in the same jurisdiction.

Timing

Contributions can only be accepted during the campaign period (after January 2nd, 2014). Continue reading

MyVoteMatters aims to increase voter turnout

Lawn Sign MyVoteMattersWe are happy to share the following message from Mike Andruff of MyVoteMatters.ca, which was established to identify issues that matter to voters and invite candidates to state their position on those issues — and to get people out to vote in the November 15 civic election in Vancouver.

“On October 27, 2014, 64.3% of eligible Torontonian voters turned up to exercise their franchise, in contrast to 34.6% of eligible Vancouverites who turned up in November of 2011. Why the apathy in Vancouver? Granted that was then, and a lot has occurred since that time.

Will the Vancouver voter turnout be different in 2014? Every voter in Vancouver has a stake in how their city is managed. The 18-35 year olds who typically shy away from the polls, need to join the process if they are to get an electoral system more responsive to their needs. New Canadians, unfamiliar to the democratic process, need to embrace it to become a part of the social fabric. All of us need to go to the polls, with family and friends, to illustrate to others in our community, that voting makes a difference in the type of governance we shape together.

An effective voter needs to show up at the polls on the right day (November 15th) regardless of work or social commitments (use the advance voting opportunities if busy on election day), he/she needs to know something about the candidates and the issues (see Candidates & Issues – MyVoteMatters.ca), and he/she needs to vote with conviction for the candidates that best represent his/her principles. Pretty basic stuff, true. But last election almost two out of three people stayed away from the polls.

Remember, good friends don’t let friends not vote. November 15th defeat the APATHY!” I have included our lawn sign picture. Lawn signs can be ordered through the website.