No consensus on longer terms

There’s mixed opinion when it comes to extending terms for local politicians.

The provincial government will introduce legislation to extend terms from three to four years for municipal councils, regional district boards and school boards. It would come into effect for the November election, meaning the next vote would be 2018.

“With four years, a lot of people won’t consider another year,” said Jim Edgson, North Westside director.

“A lot of these people are old, I’ll be 70 this year.  They want to be able to have some options (with time commitments).”

Edgson says there’s already a challenge getting younger people to run for office, and adding another year may not help.

“Four years may be more attractive for the younger people if they were compensated better.”

Howie Cyr, Enderby mayor, supports the change.

“Right now, it takes a year to ease into the job, a year of productivity and then a year of people wondering if they’re running again,” he said.

“Four years gives another year for people to get their agenda’s achieved.”

Rob Sawatzky, Vernon mayor, also backs a longer term.

“It fits more with all levels of (provincial and senior) government and the change-over that occurs,” he said.

“There’s always a lot of history and background you have to catch up on when first elected.”

Vernon Coun. Bob Spiers disagrees.

“Three years is something people will make a commitment to but with four, you may lose people who think it’s too long,” he said of the potential impact on families and careers.

In 2010, the Vernon council of the day passed a motion opposing four-year terms.

The current plan to extend terms has generated little debate within the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.

“It could provide additional time for boards to work towards their vision and goals,” said Chris Coers, Enderby trustee.

“There are costs involved in carrying out elections so this would reduce costs.”

The legislation will be introduced by Coralee Oakes, community development minister and a former Quesnel councillor.

“The reason why provinces across Canada have moved to four years is it provides greater certainty in communities to move those very important projects forward, things such as infrastructure improvements,” said Oakes.

“It provides opportunities for local government officials to understand their projects and to carry them through.”


— with notes from Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher.



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