WATCH: BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver, MLA Oak Bay-Gordon Head speaks at the annual UBCM in Vancouver. http://ow.ly/j8dY30ftedw
Posted by BCLocalNews.com on Wednesday, September 27, 2017
B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver called for a new approach to local politics the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Wednesday, by reforming campaign donations as is being proposed at the provincial level.
Speaking to local politicians from across the province in Vancouver, Weaver called for removing the “corrosive influence” of union and corporate donations from B.C. politics, that he said has contributed to a top-down approach to development at the provincial level.
Weaver is supporting NDP legislation to do the same for provincial parties, replacing them with a taxpayer subsidy that may be partially phased out after four years. That legislation does not extend to local governments.
Weaver gave the example of ski resort development proposals in B.C. Jumbo Glacier Resort was proposed for the Kootenays after “developers got together with government … to market that idea to the people,” Weaver said. The Jumbo project stalled due to local opposition and went more than 10 years without provincial approval.
Another ski resort proposal at Valemount was proposed locally by the same developers, and received approval because it first gained support from the local community and First Nations, Weaver said.
UBCM delegates supported the idea of campaign finance reform, with several noting the pressure on local officials from property developers and civic worker unions to influence their decisions. But their resolution asking the B.C. government to extend provincial rules to local governments was referred to the UBCM executive for more study after several objections were raised.
One objection was that extending the provincial law to municipal governments may entail municipal taxpayers paying a subsidy for local elections based on the votes they received in the previous election. One delegate pointed out that would give a huge advantage to incumbent mayors and councillors, effectively freezing out challengers for council or regional district seats.
Delegates voted in favour of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ amendment to rule out public subsidies, but that didn’t satisfy everyone.
Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs said local governments need to develop their own recommendations, to protect independent slates. North Cowichan Coun. Al Siebring objected to the idea of “one size fits all” regulations for small communities and cities the size of Vancouver.
The effect of third parties such as municipal unions who exert influence without donating money was also cited as an issue not addressed in provincial legislation.
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