2004 At-large or Wards vote

In 2004, Council held a plebiscite on whether Vancouver should switch from the at-large system for electing councillors, to a ward system.

The plebiscite took place on October 16, 2004. Advance voting took place October 6 and 12.

Official results

YES 30,499 46%
NO 35,813 54%
Spoiled ballots 5 0.01%
Total 66,317 100%

View the full results

Why we had this vote

Council created the Vancouver Electoral Reform Commission in 2003 to re-examine what it feels is an important issue, and to find ways to improve civic democracy.

Thomas Berger, a former BC Supreme Court judge and head of several public inquiries, was appointed as commissioner.

The commission held 17 public forums and provided a questionnaire to hear from citizens about their views on whether we should consider a change to the election system or look at other alternatives.

Based on the feedback, Commissioner Berger recommended that the City should hold a vote on whether we should change the system, and increase the number of councillors from 10 to 14. Council would then consider the results of the vote and decide whether or not to change the system.

Comparing systems

What keeping the at-large system would have meant:

  • Council would be made up of the mayor and 10 councillors
  • Voters choose 10 councillors from the list of candidates on the ballot

What changing to a ward system would have meant:

  • Council would be made up of the mayor and 14 councillors
  • Voters choose one councillor for their ward (the city is divided into 14 wards, or voting neighbourhoods, as outlined in the map showing proposed boundaries)

What would stay the same with either system:

  • The mayor is elected at large
  • The Park Board and School Board are elected at large
  • All councillors will vote on matters put before Council
  • Civic elections are held every three years
    • In 2014, the Province of BC introduced legislation that changed municipal elections from being held every three years, to every four years

Ballot question

Here is the exact question that was on the ballot:

"Are you in favour of, or are you opposed to, abolishing the at-large system and electing members of City Council by a ward system, with boundaries as set out on the map on this ballot?

___ YES, I am in favour of adopting a ward system.
___ NO, I am opposed to adopting a ward system."