Local government wants to cancel advertising requirement

Municipal politicians asking province to eliminate statutory local newspaper advertising for pending bylaws

  • Feb. 19, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Local government officials want the province to relax laws that require them to advertise pending changes and decisions in local newspapers.

Expensive, unnecessary relic of a dying era, or a crucial component in the fight to keep the public informed and local government accountable?

That defines how the lines are being drawn on B.C.’s latest media battle front.

Politicians want to end the statutory practice of local government advertising in local newspapers.

As it stands today, the Local Government Act requires municipalities and regional districts to notify the public of many pending changes or decisions through a paid ad.

But last fall, the Union of B.C. Municipalities  endorsed a motion to change that requirement. Instead, it wants the government to allow communities to use a variety of media to circulate their notices, providing they prove that they can reach the same or more residents as newspapers.

“I think the newspaper avenue for advertising is almost past and I think we should look at other venues for notification,” Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs said. “I think we’re wasting our money with newspaper advertising, quite frankly.”

Closer to home, the Cowichan Valley Regional District recently endorsed a policy shift that would enable local governments to choose their own manner of providing public notice “tailored to best serve their local communities.”

The CVRD’s motion, which will be forwarded to the Association of Vancouver Island Municipalities for endorsement, comes with a slightly different motivation.

Newspaper circulation areas that do not necessarily align with regional district boundaries make it “challenging” to meet the legal requirement, the CVRD states, adding the closure of regional papers is also a factor.

A Vancouver Island seniors advocate said the proposed change indicates a disregard for seniors.

“Many seniors are not connected online and still look to the newspapers for information that’s important to them,” Vicki Holman, executive director of the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation said.

“If they take the public notices out of the local newspapers, many of our seniors will be oblivious to what the regional district is doing, including its hospital development programs which are very important to seniors,” she said.

The preamble to the resolution endorsed by the UBCM says that, “printed newspapers are no longer the only or most effective means of giving public notice.”

Tim Shoults, president of the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association, disputes that.

He said engagement is three times higher from print compared to online material.

And online notices are only effective if people know where to look, he added. However, he agrees there should be a mix of media used for notifying the public.

“Reducing statutory advertising in newspapers … will harm the newspaper’s ability to serve those communities and cover local government.”

Social media companies such as Facebook and Google “don’t create any local content and they don’t pay professionals to create the local content and to cover local government.”

He said 79 per cent of English speaking adults in B.C. have read a community paper in the past week.

Statutory advertising “keeps local government accountable,” he said.

“We still have the best reach in the community,” Maple Ridge News publisher Jim Coulter said. “We get to every door step. Who else does that?”

— Robert Barron and Phil Melnychuk Black Press

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: North Island female minor hockey jamboree a big success story

“Success is measured by the smiles on the players’ faces, not by the scoreboard.”

FOLLOW-UP: Shelley Downey speaks on her Conservative candidacy

“I anticipate requesting a leave of absence from Port McNeill council,” Downey said.

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

New wind warning for most of Vancouver Island

Forecasters are calling for strong winds up to 90km/h for some areas

Mount Washington opening for winter season this weekend

The resort’s original opening day was delayed due to lack of snow

VIDEO: North Island female minor hockey jamboree a big success story

“Success is measured by the smiles on the players’ faces, not by the scoreboard.”

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles show ‘true grit’ in back to back wins over Powell River Kings

“We showed some real grit digging down deep for the two points.”

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

GoFundMe helps Vancouver Island teen battle a rare cancer

Nanaimo’s Michelle Reilly, 16, battling spinal cord cancer, seeking possible treatment in U.S.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

Most Read