The upcoming civic election in Vancouver (and elsewhere in BC) has something new — controlled campaign spending, less of it, and smaller donations.

This extends to organizations that are not political parties, but advertise on their behalf. They’re called “local advertising sponsors” or “third party sponsors”. They are required to register with Elections BC, and to observe spending limits during the “campaign period”, the 28 days before voting day.

I think I’ve got this right. Life is too short to read the Act (*), so my summary of various summaries will have to do.

Spending Limits

Directed advertising:   limit for the Vancouver “election area”, (towards a specific candidate or electoral organization)

Mayor and Councillor  $ 10,508.73
Park Board Commissioner $ 10,805.73

Issue advertising (towards an issue of public policy, i.e.  not “directed”)

$ 150,000 minus all “directed advertising” spending province-wide

There seems to be no limit or control on the number of third party organizations and their aggregate spending on a candidate or around an issue. This is a loophole the size of an oil tanker.

Here’s an example of one such organization:  “Residents For Community Control On City Development.”  RCCCD  identifies itself as a “registered sponsor under LECFA” (*), but specifically does not identify their affiliation, nor does it seem mandatory by Elections BC to do so.  This probably makes sense, since support for an issue may touch several political parties, as housing certainly does.

(*)  Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

Their Facebook page (which has 70 followers):

RCCCD is not affiliated with any political parties. We are concerned about the housing issues facing Vancouverites and want to help share the information people can use to decide how to vote for the kind of city they want.

Please visit our website: www.votelivablecity.ca

Some clues about possible similarity of opinion are pretty easy to find:  several RCCCD Board members are former members of COPE’s Housing Committee and are former financial contributors to COPE.  I suppose at some point that RCCCD may endorse candidates, but for now they stick to issues.

So what is their top-of-mind issue?  It seems to be classic NIMBY, but with a bureaucratic twist:  no rezoning without local approval; a veto in the hands of the defenders of the status quo.  I think we all know how that will turn out. BTW, they’re solidly in favour of preserving good old “neighbourhood character”.

To quote voteliveablecity.ca (spelling mistakes and all):

. . .  neighbourhood residents have to be given the right to vote on City proposals. RCCCD propoes a two prongued approach: a City-Wide Plan, and neighbourhood control over any rezoning proposal and over the specifics of the implementation of the City-Wide Plan. . .

A neighbourhood must have the right to veto multi-story construction that does not meet its needs and standards.

Further quotes:

It’s not market forces but communities
that should determine development in our city

Market forces, it seems to me, would include those people who are currently struggling to find housing in an expensive growing city. Ya know – buyers.  But “market forces”, to the RCCCD, seems to mean <*gasp*> developers, the all-weather boogeyman.

Other classically NIMBY horrors and boogeymen topics the RCCCD identifies are:

  • Disappearance of single-family housing, their gardens and back yards
  • Towers everywhere
  • Lowering standard of living for all (Ed.  except those now struggling to find housing)
  • The call to action:  Take back our city; empower our neighbourhoods; Housing, gardens, backyards; Safe uncongested roads
  • The RCCCD is specifically against temporary modular housing, which they call “substandard temporary housing”.

The RCCCD is an example of a third-party political actor, who are now (sort of) under spending limits.  One wonders when such controls and limits will apply to organizations like the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who are all about a specific political line when it comes to public policy issues in BC and elsewhere.

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