Nelson councillors concerned about move to four-year terms

The province plans to introduce legislation to add an extra year to local government terms, which will BC in line with other provinces.

City councillors and school board trustees elected in this November’s municipal election will be signing on for four year terms, rather than three.

The provincial government plans to introduce legislation to add an extra year to local government terms, which will BC in line with other provinces. The move was supported by 60 per cent of delegates at last year’s Union of BC Municipalities conference, after previously rejecting the suggestion in 2010.

Proponents argue that four-year terms reduce turnover and would increase local election participation by being timed with provincial votes.

But others worry that increasing the time commitment will discourage some potential candidates from running.

“In rural communities, council positions are not full time jobs — nor are they compensated as such,” said Nelson councillor Deb Kozak, who’s currently serving her third term. “There’s always concerns about getting people out to run for positions and making sure we have a broad demographic represented on our council.”

She’s not sure how the change will impact her decision whether to seek re-election.

“All of us currently sitting [on council] will be having a sober look at this and seeing what it will mean for our own personal lives and what it will mean for our community as well,” Kozak said.

First-term councillor Candace Batycki also would have rather seen council terms remain at three years. Still, she can see the positive side of extended terms.

“Certainly there’s a learning curve when you’re new on council, and your effectiveness increases with each passing year,” she said. “The extra year would give us more time to work as a council and get things done.”

The move to four-year terms is part of a package of civic election reforms planned for the current legislative session. The changes will also modernize election campaign financing rules ahead of the 2014 local elections but the province has yet to elaborate on what those changes entail. Expense limits will not be implemented in 2014.

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