New civic party restricts donations

Corporations, societies and unions won't be allowed to give money to Live Langley, which will run candidates in Langley Township this fall.

The new Live Langley civic party has announced it will not accept contributions from corporations, unions and other societies, and will limit the amount that individuals can donate to the party and individual candidates.

The party plans to nominate candidates in the Langley Township election in November.

“In B.C.’s municipal elections, there is no limit to what an individual or corporation can donate to a municipal election campaign. This needs to end. How can we possibly continue to believe that a development proposal is good for the community if developers are the ones paying the bills for the majority of successful election campaigns?” said Brad Richert, vice-president of Live Langley. “Langley has an opportunity to be an innovator of sustainable urban planning in the suburbs, but we must develop with integrity.”

Richert was involved with a group of local Willoughby neighbourhood residents after a developer swapped lands with the school board, replacing a previously designated school site with over 100 townhouses in 2011-12. Township council voted to rezone the site in favour of a developer that made campaign contributions to the majority of the councillors who later voted for the proposal.

“We are ready to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak” said Live Langley president Clint Lee. “The only way we will be able to run a successful campaign with four candidates this year is if we gain financial support from the general public. We need to be able to prove that you can be pro-development without ignoring the people and promote sustainable development at arm’s length.”

Lee said this puts the civic party at a financial disadvantage, but waiting for others to take action isn’t working.

Live Langley’s constitution states that “no contributions will be accepted from corporations, unions or other registered B.C. societies. Maximums from individuals will be limited to $750 per calendar year. All contributions are to be made public, and addresses and contact information will not be disclosed.”

Although there are strict donation limits in federal election campaigns, there are no restrictions that limit the amount or who may contribute to municipal campaigns.

While the Union of British Columbia Municipalities has considered motions to reform campaign contributions and spending, no contribution limits have been placed in legislation by the provincial government, which oversees municipal governments.

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