The mayors of the Langleys will have to trim their campaign budgets in the next municipal elections because of new provincial caps on spending.
A Times analysis of the proposed new regulations shows, had they been in place at the time, both Township mayor Jack Froese and City mayor Ted Schaffer would have gone over the limits in the 2014 election, but all elected councillors in both municipalities would have, barely, remained within the allowed maximums.
Froese reported 2014 campaign expenses of $94,559.40 in his amended disclosure statement, which is viewable on the Elections BC website.
The provincial formula would have set an upper limit, based on the population of the Township, of $68,900.
Schaffer reported 2014 campaign expenses of $24,677.70.
That would exceed the population-adjusted limit for the city of $21,215.55.
These figures are not official, and are based on the most recent population figures posted on the two municipal websites.
Candidates for council, meanwhile, would only be allowed to spend half as much as the mayoralty hopefuls.
In the Township, that would have meant a ceiling of $38,584 for councillors, while City hopefuls would have had to stay below $10,607.55.
No Township councillor exceeded the limit, but Blair Whitmarsh came close at $37,384.29.
In the City, Paul Albrecht was just below the line at $10,362.56.
The legislation will also cap spending by regional district directors and school trustees at half the limit of mayors in their areas.
“I think they’ve got this right,” said Dermod Travis, executive director for Integrity B.C., adding the sliding scale reflects the different needs of small and large communities.
“It’s unfortunate the other half of the equation is not being tackled at the same time, which would be donations. But I think they’ve found a good middle for where those caps should be on expenses.”
It will make it harder for well-funded candidates to use advertising firepower to beat their opponents, he predicted.
“You’re going to see less money getting spent, which means candidates have to raise less money. Which means that they’re actually going to have to campaign more in terms of meeting voters rather than buying ads.”
The recommendations were developed by a special legislative committee and have support of both the BC Liberals and NDP, as well as the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
According to the committee report, Froese and Schaffer were among 31 mayoral candidates and 69 council candidates across B.C. who spent more last year than the proposed new limit will allow.
The expense limits would apply from Jan. 1 of the election year until voting day.
Third-party advertisers are to be limited to spending no more than five per cent of the cap of a candidate within a 28-day campaign period, up to a cumulative maximum of $150,000 province-wide.
The government is taking public comments in a final round of consultations until Nov. 27 before the bill is expected to pass.
— with files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press