A call for four-year municipal terms at the recent Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference is getting a mixed reception from Nanaimo council members.
UBCM delegates endorsed a resolution last week requesting the province pass legislation that would increase the time between local elections to four years, an increase from the current three-year term. The resolution also called on the government to implement the change in time the 2014 elections.
First-term councillors Bill McKay and George Anderson said last week at the conference that they are supportive of the idea. B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada where municipalities go to the voting booth every three years. The notion of adding an extra year has been criticized by some officials from smaller communities as a money grab for career politicians.
But Coun. Ted Greves said officials spend much of their first year of council learning the ropes, and by the third year of a council's term, election wheels are already turning, he added. He expressed support for extending terms by another year, although he stressed the change would have limited effect.
"My opinion is, I don't think it's a bad idea, basically," he said.
Coun. Fred Pattje, on the other hand, said he was "slightly uncomfortable" with the idea."
"Four years is a long time, and I understand for a new councillor, it might work," he said.
A longer term could offer more political stability, but, he added, "there's something to be said for new blood and new ideas."
"It is something I would like to consider a little bit more," Pattje said.
Mayor John Ruttan said the prospect of a longer term on council does not make deciding whether to run for a third term "any easier." Ruttan said he will likely decide whether or not to see re-election next year. He added the prospect of a fouryear commitment to a term on council could dissuade some newcomers to politics, but said fewer elections could also make running for council more affordable.
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