Councillors to vote on four-year terms

Source: Williams Lake Tribune

Copyright: BlackPress Digital



By: No Writer Listed

Published: Sep 24, 2010

Municipal politicians are gathering in Whistler next week to decide whether to extend their term of office to four years.

The B.C. government would have to amend the Local Government Act to extend the terms of councillors and school trustees beyond the existing three years. But Surrey Coun. Barbara Steele, incoming president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, said provincial politicians have promised to abide by the decision made by delegates at their annual convention Sept. 28-Oct. 1.

Steele sat on a provincial-municipal task force that recommended the move to four-year terms in May. In an interview Monday, Steele predicted a vigorous debate and a close vote on the proposed change, which could be made in time for civic elections next fall.

Some smaller communities have difficulty finding candidates willing to make even a three-year commitment to a job that often features low pay, long hours and a lack of public recognition or respect. Among the resolutions put forward for debate at the convention is one from the northeast B.C. community of Hudson’s Hope, calling for three-year terms to be maintained.

The rural-urban divide in B.C. will be prominent at this year’s convention. The UBCM executive has proposed adding two more members to represent the Metro Vancouver region, where more than half the province’s population now lives, to balance the majority of councillors from smaller communities who tend to dominate the executive.

Another resolution calls for moving the date of local elections from November to October, so politicians outside the South Coast are less likely to campaign on snowy streets and highways.

Other issues unite communities across the province, such as the impact of drug trafficking. The Cariboo Regional District is seeking provincial help to deal with marijuana growers in rural areas, while Maple Ridge wants better federal supervision of medical marijuana licences that allow people to grow legally. Metro Vancouver is calling for more effort to stop the import of chemical precursors for drug labs that make ecstasy and methamphetamine.

Another popular topic is animal control. Richmond has proposed banning the sale of rabbits from pet stores, while Kimberley seeks a birth control solution for the proliferation of deer that have become habituated to living around people.

Saanich and Osoyoos are calling for changes to wildlife regulations to give them more options to reduce the overpopulation of Canada geese and its impact on parks, lakes and crops.