Money and Politics in Simcoe County: Shining a Light on Municipal Election Financing
"Developers play a disproportionate role in financing municipal politics. Through seeking out and funding pro-development candidates, they are able to fill municipal councils across the GTA with supporters of sprawl. Pro-environment candidates for municipal office do not have access to developer money, making it very challenging for them to get elected. Developer support for ‘growth at all costs” candidates contributes to a system that perpetuates low-density growth, with all its attendant social and environmental costs.
This report looks at developer contributions to municipal elections in five Simcoe-area municipalities: Barrie, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Collingwood, Innisfil, and New Tecumseth. In these municipalities, the development industry gave 43% of all contributions to elected councillors. Of these developer contributions, 58% came from outside the relevant municipalities, meaning that many councillors are being supported by outside interests.
To protect local democracy, build transparency and oversight, and give candidates not supported by the development industry a fair chance, the Ontario government needs to act now to ban corporate and union contributions to municipal elections. The City of Toronto has enacted such a ban for its municipal elections; similar bans exist for provincial elections in Quebec and Manitoba, as well as at the federal level. Banning corporate and union contributions will help put ordinary citizens on the same level as the development industry at municipal councils. The province should also require that contributors be qualified electors in the municipality where the candidate they are supporting is running for office. Recommendations for reform are discussed in more detail on pages 7 and 8 of this report."
- Campaign Lake Simcoe