Four-year terms coming soon for local politicians

In keeping with the standards used by all of the other Canadian provinces, effective in 2018, local politicians will serve four-year terms if a proposal by the provincial government goes through.

The change comes after endorsements by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and BC School Trustees Association, but still needs the rubber stamp of the B.C. government, which will introduce legislation during the current legislative session.

Terms currently end after three years.

The change affects mayors and all elected officials serving municipalities, regional districts, parks boards, school boards and the Islands Trust.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Coralee Oakes announced the addition of a fourth year on Tuesday morning.

“My experience as a municipal councillor convinced me that to succeed in today’s complex world, local governments need enough time to plan and complete projects that build strong, inclusive communities,” Oakes said. “I’m confident this change, supported

by UBCM and the task force, will help local governments continue to make B.C.’s communities great places to live and work.”

Duncan Mayor Phil Kent isn’t convinced the extra year is necessary.

“It’s a long commitment for someone to make,” he said. “It was not something that I necessarily supported.

“I felt that typically if somebody who’s serving a three-year term, if they are looking for longer-term influence and work within civic service, if they execute well and make good decisions that they are likely going to be there two terms anyway,” he explained.

Kent said the issue has come up a lot over the years at UBCM as part of a greater conversation on electoral reform but only this time around was it moved ahead – and even then not unanimously.

Kent also worried municipal elections would end up on the same cycle as provincial elections, thereby opening the door to the possibility of provincial issues filtering down to municipal politics.

“That would not necessarily be positive for municipalities,” he said. “But that’s only my view.”