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Rules for fundraising and advertising by candidates, backers and detractors now in effect
With just under one month to go until voting day, local elections are set to shift into high gear with the official start of the campaign period today.
Candidates and the groups spending money to support or oppose them are now subject to expense limits set by Elections BC. Maximum spending for each elected office—mayor, council or school trustee—are based on local population. Mayoral candidates in Saanich, for instance, can spend up to $80,887 on their election bids while Metchosin mayoral hopefuls are barred from spending more than $10,797.
Individuals and organizations planning to splash out on election advertising can spend up to $161,967.47 on races across the province but must respect specific limits for individual local councils and school boards. Elections BC maintains a list of registered third party advertisers, who are the only groups allowed to pay for advertising during the campaign and must respect the limits and reporting requirements.
During the campaign period, election advertising includes any kind of communication with the public in favour of, or against, any candidate or organization endorsing them. Spending on paid canvassing by phone, by digital outreach, or in person is also covered, as are communications on issues associated with candidates and the organizations backing them.
Unpaid posts on social media, candidates’ websites, direct communications to members of an organization and free news coverage are not considered election advertising. Neither are people’s personal views expressed by phone, in person or on the internet, as long as no money changes hands.
Both candidates and third party spenders can accept donations but must ensure the people they accept money from are allowed to do so. Only BC residents with Canadian citizenship or permanent residency are eligible to donate, and they can only give $1,250 to any one candidate or third party group.
Elections BC oversees campaign financing and advertising but rules about election signs are set by local governments—although the Ministry of Transportation sets the rules for any sign placement along highways. While election signs are already up in several CRD municipalities, Langford candidates can only begin setting out their signs today.
Voting procedures, ballot counting and results reporting are also done by local governments.
Voting day for all local elections is October 15.