Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Have Your Say About Local Elections

Now Is Your Chance 
To Have Your Say

VICTORIA – If you’ve ever wanted to have a say in the way your local government representatives and school trustees are elected, this is your chance to speak your mind. There are still a few weeks left for citizens, organizations and community groups to submit written feedback to the joint Local Government Elections Task Force.

I’ve had the privilege these last few months to work with an incredible group of people representing both the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Province on the task force, including co-chair and UBCM President Harry Nyce. We’ve been collecting feedback from individuals and organizations from all over B.C. about how to improve our current local government elections process and have received more than 250 submissions to date.

Though a lot of positive changes have been made in recent years to the Local Government Act to modernize elections, the task force has been looking at any remaining gaps in the process. The issues we’ve been examining include campaign finance, enforcement processes and outcomes, the role of B.C.’s chief electoral officer in local government elections, the term of office, the corporate vote, and candidate eligibility of some local government employees.

We know how important it is to seek opinions from a diverse range of stakeholders, and we have invited input from local governments, citizens, community groups, the Leader of the Opposition and organizations such as the BC Chamber of Commerce, the BC Federation of Labour, BC School Trustees Association and BC Teachers Federation.

We are also getting technical advice from election experts, including the Local Government Management Association, Elections BC and academics. As well, individual task force members are receiving feedback throughout the normal course of their work in communities throughout B.C.

From the outset, the task force has made a concerted effort to be as transparent as possible. That’s why we took the unusual step of posting on our website discussion papers about the topics the task force is reviewing. We wanted the public to be part of this process, to think through these complex issues with us.

We decided initially to keep the submissions confidential so people could feel free to express themselves without fear of having their comments made public. However, as a result of constructive criticism about our process, we have reconsidered that decision. We are posting submissions by local governments and organizations in their entirety to our website. To protect people’s privacy, we are posting only the substantive comments of individuals, without identifying them.

In order to hear from as many people as possible, we have asked for comments to be submitted in writing. I encourage you again to check out our website and let us know what you think. The deadline is April 15.

Comments can be provided:

Any changes that come out of the review will be made in time for approved legislative changes to be implemented for the 2011 local government elections.


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