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EDITORIAL: Four years?
A number of interesting motions and discussions arose from last week’s annual Union of BC Municipalities convention, including a proposal calling for extending terms of office for mayors and city councillors from three years to four.
Bring it on.
Anyone who has watched municipal politicians in action or has served on such a board knows the avalanche of information the newest members must absorb.
On top of learning the history of past decisions and choices to create the proper context for making good decisions, rookies must try to memorize the process and learn how best to work within those confines to be the most effective.
In our estimation, it takes between one and two years minimum for an elected official to reasonably understand how to do the job. Therefore, this only leaves about one year of a three-year term in which they’re sufficiently proficient to best represent the people who put them into office.
Extending a term by another year will give residents better bang for their tax buck, reduce election costs and council turnover, and put municipalities in sync with provincial elections.
This timing would aid in limiting the costs some municipalities have had to accrue once a current mayor or councillor wins a provincial election, which, obviously, triggers costly byelections, such as the one about to happen in Coquitlam to the tune of around $140,000.
The proposal passed with a 60% approval rate, with one rural delegate stating the idea came from “professional politicians” in the Lower Mainland, where pay is higher.
While that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that this is an idea whose time may have come and it should be pushed forwarded as soon as possible.
And it’s not as though there isn’t precedent for this in Canada. If such a plan is enacted, B.C. would fall in step with every other province except for the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Overall, we would be better served by having longer terms, both in terms of effectiveness of politicians and money saved by having fewer elections.