When Prince George voters head to the polls next November, they'll be picking candidates who are working under a new set of rules.
The province is moving forward with adjustments to local government election rules, which will be consolidated in a proposed new act for campaign finance.
"These changes are about enhancing transparency and accountability," said Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes.
The the new rules come on the heels of recommendations made by a joint provincial and Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) task force set up in 2009 to investigate the issue.
The task force submitted a report in May 2010 with 31 suggestions that included establishing expense limits, regulating third-party advertisers, establishing a separate legislation for local election campaign finance rules and shortening the time for filing campaign finance disclosure statement.
The new guidelines will apply to municipalities, regional districts, parks board, the Islands Trust and boards of education. Details on the changes will be released early in September in a white paper, a document indicating the government's direction before the introduction of legislation.
Some of the highlights include sponsorship information to be required on all election advertising, all campaign finance disclosure statement to be filed 90 days after the election rather than 120 days, and banning anonymous contributions.
The proposed legislation will also enable Elections B.C. to play a key role in compliance and enforcement of campaign finance rules. Currently, local governments are "responsible for every aspect of their local election, from administration of the election, to oversight of the rule," said the 2010 task force report.
After the release of the white paper, it will be open for public comment until Oct. 23.
The new act is expected to come before the assembly next spring to implement the task force recommendations, with the exception of expense limits.
Further consultation on the expense limit piece will begin in November to inform further legislative changes in time for the 2017 elections.
"UBCM is pleased to see that the province is moving forward on elections legislation," said UBCM president Mary Sjostrom. "The phased approach they are adopting will help ensure the changes will work for the full range of communities in B.C."
According to the task force's report, the last comprehensive review of local elections legislation took place in 1993, which spawned the initial campaign finance disclosure rules.