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Businesses ponder voting scheme
Should businesses have two votes?
The Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce kicked this question around briefly at its Oct. 16 meeting, following up on the B.C. Chamber’s push for a business vote in the province.
The BC Chamber states that, under the Community Charter in B.C., municipalities have significantly more power today than in the past, but don’t have the same degree of accountability.
“When this is combined with the fact that in B.C., business owners and operators do not have any voting rights in municipal elections, we have seen the development of significant inequities between business and residential property tax rates,” states the advocacy page on its website.
Local chamber president Jim Kimmerly said he doesn’t necessarily think businesses should get two votes, but noted that Salmon Arm does have a lot of businesses with owners who don’t live in town.
Chamber member Stu Bradford said business owners should be able to have that one vote.
Cookie Langenfeld of Downtown Salmon Arm said she agrees with businesses having a vote.
“I think that’s the only way it needs to be. If you already have a vote, you don’t need a second,” she said, noting that she lives two driveways out of city limits but doesn’t have a municipal vote.
City Coun. Chad Eliason pointed out that the recent Union of BC Municipalities’ convention turned down the proposal for a business vote.
The thinking was, he said, that if a business owner is passionate about an issue and has influence over their employees, they could potentially gain an additional 30 to 100 votes.
On the other hand, he said, people who were in favour of a business vote noted that they do lots of business but don’t have a say regarding municipal issues or politicians.