Maple Ridge doubles opportunities to vote in a new council

Civic elections take place this Oct. 20

Civic elections take place this Oct. 20 throughout B.C. (THE NEWS/files)

There will be no excuse for not voting in the civic election, Oct. 20.

The City of Maple Ridge is doubling the days on which people can vote early and choose themselves a new mayor and council.

And it’s also added a juicy question to the ballot to further spark interest, asking people if Maple Ridge should adopt a single, city-wide garbage collection system.

That question however has, yet to be formulated.

Instead of having only three days to vote in advance of regular election day, this year, there will be seven days.

The number of locations for advance voting will also increase from six to 12.

Voting hours will all be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The city is still finalizing locations for voting and the staff required to run the election.

There will also be a pre-election mail-out to all residents telling them of the approaching voting day, how to register, as well as the link to the city’s election web pages.

To help possible candidates learn what they might be getting into by running and winning municipal office, two candidate-information sessions will be held, one in late May and again in July. The deadline for filing nomination papers in order to become a candidate is Sept. 14.

All told, the City of Maple Ridge will be spending about $119,000 on this year’s election, an increase of about 20 per cent, needed to pay for the extra voting days.

Corporate officer Laura Benson said in a news release that the election is taking a place month earlier than usual, as required by the provincial government.

Councillors and mayors will be elected for four-year terms, the second election in which the longer terms have been in place. Previously, most council terms were three years.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read is not seeking a second term, while Coun. Bob Masse is also not running.

“The 2018 local election is being held a month earlier than previous years, which means candidates will be filing their nomination papers shortly after the Labour Day weekend,” Benson said.

She pointed out, people just need to bring two pieces of identification, one with their photo, in order to cast a ballot. They don’t need a voting card or to be on a voting list.

“They can just come to those [polls] and there’s no preregristration.” If you’re a newcomer however, you can register early by going online at elections.bc.ca

Campaign contributions to candidates in the election will be limited to $1,200 per donor, per year under legislation intorduced in 2017.

Expense limits for local government candidates and slates are unchanged, as they were set in legislation passed by the previous B.C. government in 2016.

• The ‘Maple Ridge Election 2018’ webpages will launch in conjunction with the candidate information sessions in May. A special e-mail, election@mapleridge.ca, is now live for all questions on local election planning.