Province denies Sidney’s request to change voter engagement rules

B.C. is not considering making any changes to the Alternate Approval Process (AAP) provisions of the Community Charter.

B.C. is not considering making any changes to the Alternate Approval Process (AAP) provisions of the Community Charter.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Peter Fassbender told the Town of Sidney in an Oct. 25 letter that the province’s 10 per cent threshold for electors to respond to an AAP maintains a balance of interests — between electors and local government.

Sidney Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey asked Town staff in the summer to write to the minister, suggesting the threshold be raised because of the ability of social media to mobilize people. This came after the Town council decided in August to directly borrow up to $10 million for its new community safety building, rather than seek elector assent for the borrowing through the AAP — something critics say they had promised to do a year before.

“When ten per cent or more electors sign and submit elector response forms in an AAP,” wrote Fassbender, “it would suggest that the matter is viewed to be significant and therefore may warrant a local government holding an assent vote.”

The minister added while citizens have the ability to exchange views through electronic means, local government also has the ability to share neutral information.