New limits on municipal election spending will have little local effect

The provincial government has brought forward legislation that would, curb spending during municipal elections

The provincial government has brought forward legislation that would, if passed, curb spending during municipal elections, with the limits decided by each municipality’s population.

The new move will likely mean little here in the valley come the next municipal election in 2018, since every candidate in the 2014 local election spent far less than what the limits would be.

For municipalities with fewer than 10,000 people — which would include Invermere, Radium Hot Springs, and Canal Flats, as well as Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Areas F and G — the limits would be $10,000 per mayor candidate and $5,000 for candidates seeking any other elected office.

Looking at Elections B.C. data, the money spent on campaigning by local candidates last fall was uniformly well below that threshold.

In Invermere, mayor Gerry Taft faced no opposing candidates, was acclaimed, and consequently filed election expenditures of nothing.

There were five Invermere councillor candidates fighting for four spots. With all five of them actively campaigning, the council candidates had greater expenses than Taft, although not by huge amounts. Indeed, the combined total of all five councillor candidates’ total expenditures was less than the limit proposed for a single councillor candidate under the pending legislation. Councillor Justin Atterbury spent a total of $144; councillor Greg Anderson spent $1,000; councillor Paul Denchuk spent $1,030; councillor Al Miller spent $493; and unsuccessful council candidate Kayja Becker spent $250.

In Radium Hot Springs, the mayor and all four councillors got in through acclamation, and correspondingly none had any expenses. Such was also the case for RDEK Area G director Gerry Wilkie.

RDEK Area F, however, did have a race, with director Wendy Booth having the highest expenditures of any Upper Columbia Valley candidates in the municipal elections at $3,820 and her unsuccessful challenger Andrea Dunlop having expenditures of $948. The combined total made  Area F the most expensive locale in the valley in which to run.

Canal Flats was the only incorporated municipality in the valley to have races for both mayor and councillor positions. In the mayoral race, mayor Ute Juras spent $1,120, while unsuccessful mayor candidate Dean Midyette had expenditures of $355.

The Canal Flats councillor race had five candidates competing for four spots, but most opted not to print any signs or make other promotional materials, and consequently the only one of them to have any expenditures was councillor Paul Marcil. Marcil had a least one brochure printed and filed total election expenditures of $309.