Tag Archives: Election

Donald Trump is not your Mayor

The following was recently submitted to The Global Canadian (not yet published):

Commentary by Fred Dawkins, North Van City Voices

In the last municipal election, in 2014, roughly three-quarters of North Shore voters did not vote.

The turnout ranged from a paltry 23 per cent in the District of North Vancouver to 28 per cent in the City of North Vancouver, with West Vancouver coming in at 27 per cent. By contrast, the turnout for the most recent provincial election was about 60 per cent – more than double the municipal vote.

Political scientists have advanced a number of theories as to why this is. Probably it’s a combination of factors. Many people feel disengaged from municipal politics – they don’t follow the issues between elections, so don’t know how they should vote when the election comes around. Many don’t see the municipal issues as important, while others are cynical about how business is done at City Hall and don’t feel their vote will change anything.

There’s an information gap too. Most candidates for council are unknown to anyone but their family and friends, and mainstream media coverage of municipal issues and candidates is miniscule compared with coverage of provincial and federal politics.

My unscientific reading of the situation is that, thanks to cable news and social media, the average North Shore voter is more engaged in U.S. politics than in what’s happening in their own back yard. Everyone has an opinion about Donald Trump; not many even know who their mayor is, let alone what he or she stands for.

What it comes down to is, in municipal politics, people perceive that the stakes are low. The majority is okay with leaving the electoral choice to the few people who care, because after all, what’s the worst that can happen if the “wrong” people get elected to Council.

Well, if you are becoming increasingly irritated and inconvenienced by the unending traffic snarls on our major North Shore routes, this is one of those “worst things”.

Four years ago, City of North Vancouver voters were offered a choice between an organized bloc of candidates who advocated a rapid build-up of residential development, and a number of independent candidates who called for a more careful, measured approach to growth. Then a relatively small number of votes (remember, 28 per cent total turnout) elected a pro-developer council, dominated by candidates who received financial backing from the developers. The building boom accelerated, fueled by Official Community Plan amendments and density bonuses.

Now here we are. And it’s not over yet – the legacy of our developer-friendly City government will be felt for years to come, with several major developments still under construction. If you think traffic is bad now, just wait till all those new condos and townhouses are completed and the hundreds of additional residents join the daily commute.

Feel engaged yet?

The irony is, I’m preaching to the converted. If you are reading this community newspaper, you’re probably already among the relative minority who follow the local issues and will likely get out and vote this fall.

To you, I make this request – please talk it up with your friends and neighbours who may not be as engaged in North Shore issues. When they complain about the traffic, point out that our city councils are the ones who allow runaway development while doing almost nothing to ease the stress on our commuter routes and civic infrastructure. Make sure they know an election is coming, and unless they want four more years of this (or worse), they should read up on the candidates in their community newspaper, and make plans to vote for the ones who haven’t got us into this mess.

You might also point out that because of the relatively small numbers, their single vote has a lot more impact than it does in provincial and federal elections. And a short walk to the voting booth can make a big difference in their quality of life.

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Spending limits announced for North Van, West Van civic campaigns

from the North Shore News today:

Candidates in the upcoming October civic elections on the North Shore will be running leaner election campaigns this time around and getting by with fewer glossy pamphlets and paid helpers.

Elections B.C. released dollar figures for new expense limits for municipal campaigns this week, which set out the maximum amount candidates can spend in an effort to get themselves elected.

The expense limits, brought in under the last provincial government, will be felt most acutely in the City of North Vancouver, where the two mayoralty candidates both spent vastly more than will be allowed under the new rules in the 2014 civic election.

The new expense limits are based on population, so vary between municipalities.

 

In the City of North Vancouver, candidates running for mayor will now be limited to spending $36,348 – about one-third of the approximately $96,700 spent by Mayor Darrell Mussatto in the last campaign and half the $79,200 spent by challenger Kerry Morris.

Council candidates will also have to make do with the beer-budget version of campaigning, with a spending limit of $18,368.

Both Coun. Linda Buchanan – who spent about $27,600 on her campaign – and Coun. Craig Keating – who spent $28,900 – spent over that limit in the previous election.

More significantly, however, this will be the first civic election since the new provincial government banned union and corporate donations and limited individuals to donations of $1,200.

During the last election, Mussatto, Keating and Buchanan all received sizable donations from a number of real estate developers, businesses and from unions including CUPE, which represents workers at North Vancouver city hall.

Individual donations are also limited to $1,200 under the new rules and can only be made by people who are B.C. residents and Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Candidates will also not be allowed to spend more than $2,400 of their own money on their election campaign.

During the last election, Mussatto received individual donations that were several times that size from the heads of two development companies, while Morris spent more than $70,000 of his own money on his campaign.

Spending and donation limits will be less of a factor elsewhere on the North Shore, but candidates in the districts of North and West Vancouver will also have to keep their campaign belts tightened.

Spending limits for District of North Vancouver mayoralty candidates is set at just under $53,963 while campaign spending by those vying for council seats will be about $27,335. Coun. Jim Hanson spent over that last time – about $28,300 – although the other candidates would have had no problem complying with the new limits.

In the District of West Vancouver, spending on a mayoralty election campaign has been capped at $30,841 while council candidates are limited to spending $15,564. Coun. Mary-Ann Booth spent more than that – about $22,300 – on her council campaign last time, as did the late councillor Michael Lewis, who spent $15,800.

Any candidate planning to skirt the regulations by having someone else pick up the tab will have to think again too: there are also new limits on what can be spent by third parties on advertising that endorses or promotes election candidates. Limits are $1,817 in the City of North Vancouver, $1,542 in the District of West Vancouver and $2,698 in the District of West Vancouver.

The campaign spending limits apply to the period Sept. 22 to Oct. 20. They also include goods and services purchased prior to that but used during the campaign.

In previous civic elections, there were no limits on how much money organizations could donate to a candidate’s campaign or how much candidates could spend, earning B.C. a Wild West reputation and leading to criticisms that those with deep pockets were having an undue influence on some councils.

Source: Spending limits announced for North Van, West Van civic campaigns

Election 2018

Comment from Voices:  With more discussion about the October 2018 election happening in coffee shops, Council chambers and on the street we thought it was time for a separate area for articles and discussions.  We start with a thoughtful comment by a City resident in response to a letter from another resident, published previously on our site: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/2601-lonsdale-developer-payback/

and the subject of an article in The Global Canadian:https://www.theglobalcanadian.com/woman-wanted-tell-cnv-council-couldnt/.

The public hearing for 2601 Lonsdale was last night, no decision until next week. The public hearing for 151 East Keith is next Monday.

Margaret Heywood Agree, we should be holding the “gang of four” to account. And be extra vigilant during this pre-election time for the four forcing through developments that are against the community plan, the community’s wishes and in my view common sense Pay attention to 151 East Keith coming on the heals of 161 East Keith and slated for public hearing next Monday. Right under our noses, the gang of four arbitrarily relaxed the distance between towers with no meaningful public input and no overall community notice — all to the benefit of their developer campaign donor. Now they are considering additional density at 151 East Keith where I understand much of the build out is on the 25 foot set back. This is a drastic change to the Victoria Park community, and in combination with the relaxing of distances between towers creates a precedent that has neither been approved nor discussed in the community plan and has never been envisioned by the people who live around Victoria Park. We need to be preserving all the green space we can, not giving it away for developer’s profits and cloaked in the elusive quest for rental housing. The 10-10-10 formula for density bonusing is grossly inadequate compared to the benefit that accrues to the developer. This has occurred largely because of the votes of Councillors Buchanan, Back, Mussatto and Keating. If you vote, and we urge you to do so, do not vote for these four because their record is entirely inconsistent with community interests and totally consistent with giving their developer friends and insiders profits on the backs of taxpayers.

Last Hurrah for Big Money

From an Integrity BC Post:  2014, The Last Hurrah for Big Money in BC Local Elections (rules have changed for the 2018 election):

‘Time to start taking an in-depth look at who donated what and to who in the 2014 local elections and subsequent byelections.’

Donations by the Property Development Industry to the current slate in the City of North Vancouver.  The only current (non slate) Council member is Rod Clark, the recipient of a small donation ($400).  The donations from the larger developers totalled $62,467, and there were further donations from individuals in the development Industry.  The full list is available on facebook at IntegrityBC .

Integrity CNV developer donations 2014

Previous coverage after the 2014 election is available here: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/see-who-paid-for-the-2014-elections/

When the election-funding cap did not fit the CNV councillors – The Global Canadian

This article was published earlier in the print edition of The Global Canadian, which is now available online.   As we move further into the local election year (Oct 2018), we thought the comments in the article by various people including Council members are worth noting:

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‘The new BC government led by NDP is proposing a ban on corporate and union donations and limiting individual donations to $1200.’

Source: When the election-funding cap did not fit the CNV councillors – The Global Canadian

Big Money small town politics (The Tyee)

From Andrew McLeod in The Tyee today:

Worries Continue About Big Money in Small-Town Politics

Former Sunshine Coast mayor asks whether new election rules will have sufficient teeth.

 

New rules introduced for municipal elections in British Columbia are a step forward, but may not be enough without strong support for enforcement, says a former Sunshine Coast mayor.

“The rules are only practical if they’re going to be enforced and if there are consequences for breaking the rules,” said Barry Janyk, who served in local government in Gibsons for 15 years starting in 1996, including 12 years as mayor.

“If people want to cheat the system and they have the resources to do it, then they’ll do it. I don’t know what the answer is.”

In the fall session of the legislature, the provincial government passed a bill that set a cap of $1,200 each year for individual donations to any one candidate or to candidates running as part of the same elector organization, or party.

A donor can still give $1,200 to multiple candidates if they are running independently and not part of an official slate or to candidates in several municipalities. Bill 15, the Local Elections Campaign Financing Amendment Act, 2017, also banned all donations from outside of the province, as well as those from corporations and unions.

A spokesperson for Elections BC, Andrew Watson, said in an email, “Elections BC is confident that we will be able to administer the changes to the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act effectively, and will seek additional resources if necessary.”

Uneven playing field

The day the bill was introduced, Union of British Columbia Municipalities president Wendy Booth endorsed the change. “Elections shouldn’t be won or lost on who has the most money,” she said. “We think these changes will level the playing field for candidates.”

Concerns about municipal election financing, particularly in Vancouver, go back many years. The Tyee published City Hall for Sale, a series that a decade ago exposed the “lax regulations that allow virtually unlimited contributions with little public scrutiny.”

In October, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said the changes were needed in smaller communities as well. “I’ve certainly heard stories in different communities and the one that stands out is in the Sunshine Coast where a $20,000 contribution was made to a mayoral candidate,” she said. “In that campaign in a small community it was a significant contribution.”

The current mayor of Gibsons, Wayne Rowe, didn’t respond to requests for an interview.

According to a spreadsheet Janyk made using Elections BC data from the 2014 municipal elections, Gibsons had the highest spending per capita of any community in the province. Candidates and third parties spent more than $19 per person in the community, more than double what was spent in Vancouver.

Janyk said the amount spent on the election is a sign of business interests hoping to influence the outcome.

In particular, a plan from Klaus Fuerniss Enterprises Inc. for a marine resort and condominiums on the waterfront has been controversial in the community.

The plan was first proposed around a decade ago, and Janyk opposed it as mayor. “I got cold feet on the whole plan because I thought it was so out of step with the little town of Gibsons.”

The community was already struggling to adjust to development, he said. There’s a need to find more drinking water, he said, adding, “The ferries are a gong show, always overloaded, always late.”

‘Development plum’ and influence

People have been willing to spend money to influence elections in Gibsons because they hope to benefit from projects council can block or approve, Janyk said. “It’s all about money. That’s all it’s about. It’s made me really cynical about local politics in a community where there’s a development plum.”

Even with the new rules, much will depend on people’s honesty and integrity, he said. When something is improper, he said, “Unless you get someone who’s going to leak it, it’s very difficult to prove it.”

Elections BC’s budget request for 2018/19 included $1.69 million to administer campaign financing rules during the 2018 municipal elections. The agency added 11 full-time staff in 2014 after the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act was first adopted.

Watson said Elections BC didn’t seek more funding to administer the changes made last fall because Bill 15 had not yet passed when the agency appeared in front of the legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services during the budget process in November.

“We are working to determine if additional resources are required to administer the requirements of the Bill, and will meet with the committee early this year with a supplementary funding request if required,” he said.

Elections BC tries to resolve any compliance issues through education first, Watson said, but can take further steps if necessary.

“The Chief Electoral Officer has the authority to conduct reviews, investigations and audits of the financial affairs and accounts of candidates, elector organizations, third party sponsors and assent voting advertising sponsors to ensure compliance with [the law],” he said.

“They also have the authority to require individuals or organizations to provide further information respecting compliance with the Act. We follow up any complaint we receive regarding potential contraventions of the Act, and may initiate an investigation if required.”

The new law made the rules retroactively effective starting on Oct. 31. Local elections will be held across the province on Oct. 20, 2018.  [Tyee]

‘Big Money’ to Be Booted Out of Municipal Politics READ MORE 

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NS News Editorial: Seeking resolution

More often than not, New Year’s resolutions are campaign promises we make to ourselves; something to try for a bit before reluctantly admitting that doing Pilates and balancing the federal budget isn’t really for us.

But we’re suggesting something different this Dec. 31. Instead of making a resolution for yourself, make one for your mayor and council. Because if 2017 was about gathering facts, 2018 has to be about putting those facts to work.

Thanks to a fresh batch of census data, we know our daily gridlock is driven by the 41 per cent of our workforce that can’t afford to live here. We know population, income, and transit use have all dropped in West Vancouver. We know almost half of renters across the North Shore are paying more than they can afford. Other agencies have shown us rising rates of homelessness and the spread of Airbnbs.

Armed with that information, we find ourselves looking at the next 12 months like children marvelling at the possibilities of untouched snow. Instead of quarreling over that odious term: “relative affordability,” our elected officials can pursue rental housing that corresponds with the paycheques of firefighters, police officers, nurses and those other commuters it might be handy to have around in an emergency. Instead of an air of indifference, we can resolve to put bylaw officers on the street to shield our housing market from the ravages of the sharing economy. 

Mark Twain once noted that a week after New Year’s resolutions are made, “you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” Twain was right. But 2018 is an election year, which means that if this council doesn’t have the proper resolve, we can vote in one that does.

Source: EDITORIAL: Seeking resolution