British Columbia

Vancouver councillor wants to increase requirements for running for office

It might seem counterintuitive, but councillor Adriane Carr thinks increasing certain requirements — including the number of signatures needed to run for council and mayor — would be a good idea.

Right now, running for mayor or council requires just 25 signatures and a $100 deposit

Turnout in Vancouver's election decreased from 43.4 per cent in 2014 to 39.4 per cent in 2018. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Can fewer choices mean better democracy?

It might seem counterintuitive, but Councillor Adriane Carr thinks increasing certain requirements — including the number of signatures needed to run for council and mayor — would be a good idea.

"We had a huge list of candidates. The longest we've ever had in the City of Vancouver, and more than any other municipality in Canada," Carr said.

And that long list was a deterrent for some people in actually voting," she said. 

Carr has put forward a motion for next week's council meeting that requests the following:

  • The number of signatures required to run for council, school board or park board be increased from 25 to 100.
  • The number of signatures required to run for mayor be increased from 25 to 200.
  • The deposit each candidate must provide be increased from $100 to $150.

If passed by council, it would still need the approval of the provincial government. 

Vancouver councillor Adriane Carr received 69,885 votes in last year's election, the most of the 71 candidates running for council. The candidate with the lowest number of votes received 1,951. (CBC)

Turnout down last election

Vancouver's turnout for the last municipal election dropped from 43.4 per cent in 2014 to 39.4. The number of candidates on the ballot — 158 in all — was cited by a fifth of residents who didn't vote as a reason they didn't cast a ballot, in a report commissioned by the city after the election

"It might be enough to eliminate some of the people who found 25 signatures easy to get and would find it a little harder yet to get more. Yet really they have to get more if they're serious candidates," said Carr. 

She also argued a smaller list of council candidates would allow for greater focus at all-candidate meetings, and allow candidates to attend more of them. 

In addition, Carr's motion calls on the official campaign period to be extended from 29 days to 80 days, so that voters have more time to be educated, and third parties have less time right before the election to spend without restrictions. 

"It is better in terms of transparency around who is funding election campaigns," said Carr.

No ward system

The main reason Vancouver's electoral ballot is typically longer than any other Canadian city is mostly due to the lack of a ward system, resulting in all candidates across the city running against each other instead of specific neighbourhoods. 

Last year, Mayor Kennedy Stewart promised that if elected, he would ensure it was "the last Vancouver civic election where we elect our local representatives using the out-dated at-large voting system."

A spokesperson for Stewart said he was still committed to seeing electoral reform in Vancouver, but did not set a timeline on putting forward a proposal. 

With files from Andrea Ross

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