British Columbia·City Votes 2014

Spending limits promised for B.C.'s next municipal elections

B.C. says new election spending limits will be in place in time for the next round of municipal elections in 2018.

Controversy over the source and amount of campaign spending was an issue in Saturday's elections

All of Vancouver major parties divulged their donor lists for the first time before Saturday's election, including, Left to right: Meena Wong (COPE), Gregor Robertson (Vision) and Kirk LaPointe (NPA). (CBC)

The province is promising to deal with the controversy over the amount of cash politicians can spend in municipal campaigns across B.C.

Coralee Oakes, B.C.'s Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development, promises election spending limits will be in place by 2018, the next year voters cast ballots in municipal elections.

The new rules will likely govern municipal politicians as well as third parties who advertise on their behalf. Currently, there is no limit on how much individuals, businesses and unions can contribute. Candidates can spend as much as they want.

Oakes said a special legislative committee is meeting with electoral organizations and other stakeholders to gather their input, and members of the public can submit their comments or fill out an online questionnaire until Friday, Nov. 21.

"This is the opportunity for citizens and stakeholders to step up and to talk to the committee to address the challenges or opportunities that they see in fixing this," said Oakes.

The legislative committee will make recommendations on the principles for determining relationship between elector organizations and candidates when it comes to expense limits, and on principles for determining expense limits for third-party advertisers by Nov. 27. A follow-up report on expense limits for candidates and third-party advertisers is due in June.

Clash over money in politics

Election spending was a hot topic in Vancouver's election in particular. Questions were raised about the influence of property developers, unions and other organizations that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign coffers.

That led the top contenders to release full lists of donors during the campaign, for the first time ever. In the past, donations were only disclosed months after voters went to the polls.

Total spending by all parties reached nearly $5 million in this year's race in Vancouver.