Canadians for

 Direct Democracy (CDD)      

A Referendum Advocacy Group

Let the People Decide!

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Letter to Richmond City Council

Similar letters were sent to Burnaby and Vancouver City Councils
November 21, 1997

Submission to Richmond City Council
Re: Direct Democracy

Your Worship and Council:

We are a non-profit, non-partisan group. We made a submission to Council on November 12th, when Casino gambling was on the agenda.

We write to follow up on your letter from Mayor Profili of Rossland to all B.C. municipalities, urging that if you support Direct Democracy that you write to the Minister and UBCM expressing this conviction.

We believe that Direct Democracy has the potential to revitalize the democratic health of the City, the Lower Mainland, the Province, and senior governments; and we urge Richmond City Council to join with Rossland in a leadership position.

Direct Democracy is a system of government which has flourished in Switzerland for l30 years, in Rossland for 7 years, has worked in Pitt Meadows for the past few months, and is now under active consideration in the District of North Vancouver.

Direct Democracy involves the people in the decision-making process by a system of popular initiatives leading to binding referenda.

e.g. If a group of registered voters (2% in Switzerland, 15% in Pitt Meadows) proposes a new law, or challenges an existing law by signing a petition, the government must hold a binding referendum.

During the last few years the Swiss have decided by binding referendum:

In Switzerland, as in Rossland, the vast majority of laws is not challenged by referendum -- because the laws are in line with what most voters want.

It is widely accepted that referendums are popular with the people.

But Direct Democracy has many advantages for council too:

How expensive is Direct Democracy? In Rossland they have had 7 referendums since l99l at a cost of $l.00 per capita, per referendum. Some referendums can be held at the same time as elections at very little incremental cost.

On balance, referendums probably save money because they prevent expensive reversals of decisions.

Does Direct Democracy lead to slash and burn tax cut policies? This has not happened in Switzerland. Nor has it happened in Rossland where the voters approved by referendum a $l00.00 property tax increase to build BCs first and only ozone water treatment plant.

There are many other questions that arise in people's minds. Our literature and website answer many of these questions. Others need local input.

The federal Reform Party and the Green Party have made Direct Democracy part of their platforms.

The real question is:
Will Richmond be one of the progressive councils which sees Direct Democracy as an opportunity?
Or will it battle with the increasing anger and frustration of its own citizenry?

The District of North Vancouver voted on November 3rd, 1997 to study Direct Democracy, despite their pride in being already one of the most democratic councils in B.C.
Will Richmond choose to join them on this enlightened path?

Yours sincerely,

Colin Stark
Canadians for Direct Democracy


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