Bring back business ballots, chamber president urges
Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce president Angie Quaale wants Langley Township council to back a campaign that would give B.C. businesses the right to vote in local elections once again.
That right was removed by then-provincial municipal affairs minister Robin Blencoe in 1993, who repealed the business vote, arguing it provided a loophole that allowed people to vote more than once by simply leasing storage lockers.
Quaale appeared before Township council Monday (March 11) to complain that businesses typically pay more taxes than residents but don’t get the same level of service, such as garbage collection, schools and recreation facilities.
“Essentially, it’s taxation without representation,” Quaale said.
As proposed by the chamber and other business groups in the province, the resurrected business tax would be structured to prevent people from leasing storage lockers and parking lots to qualify.
A survey of the chamber’s 1,100 members has found them 92 per cent in favour of bringing back the business vote.
It would give businesses a say in the communities they operate in, something they are denied when they don’t happen to live where they operate, Quaale said.
“I don’t live in Langley City, but I would have a vote [with the reinstatement of a business vote].”
Under questioning by council, she said the law would give votes to both business licenses and business properties, even if one person owns both.
In that situation, she said, the business owner would be entitled to two votes.
A written statement issued the next day by the Langley chamber said that there “are a number of instances already in existence where an individual can be granted the right to vote more than once” such as non-residential property owners in municipal elections.
“Voters needing assistance may also grant a representative the right to vote on their behalf,” the statement goes on to add.
No other province in Canada has a business vote, the chamber conceded.
The only example of a business vote it could find was in London, England.
The proposed resolution, as written by the chamber, would have council agree to lobby the Union of BC Municipalities to work with the provincial government and B.C. Chamber of Commerce to reinstate a business voting category “so that businesses can exercise their democratic right to vote and participate in the electoral process in the community.”
Council heard Quaale out, but made no decision.
The Langley chamber plans to appear before Langley City council with the same request on March 18.