Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changes available for municipal elections in BC

The provincial government in BC changed the act governing local governments making possible for local governments to change how councilors are elected.  No longer do all the councilors have to be elected as one mass at large group, municipalities can choose to elect councilors by wards or a mix of wards and at large.

The province has also allowed local governments to choose how many councilors a municipality has up to a maximum of 10.

So far only one municipality has taken up this power, that being Lake Country.   The recent local elections saw only two councilor elected on an at large basis with the other four elected from a ward.   Lake Country now has councilors representing Oyama, Carr's Landing, Okanagan Centre and Winfield.

The existing electoral system used to elect councilors is the worst possible voting system ever devised.   It makes it very hard for a new person to be elected because the nature of the how the it works.    Every person someone convinces to vote is going to vote for other people, in most cases that will be the best known names.   It means that all the challengers effectively end up campaigning for the incumbents as well.

The at large system also does not work well for neighbourhoods.   In the case of my neighbourhood, we have not had anyone sitting on Victoria City Council in as far back as I can find.   The system the City of Victoria uses for council liaison does not create an advocate for a neighbourhood, but is really more of a representing Victoria to the neighbourhoods.

Most municipalities in BC should move away from any at large elected councilors as quickly as possible to ensure that the 2014 local elections are fairer than in the past.
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