VICTORIA – Winners of next November’s local elections will serve four years on councils and school boards.
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes said Tuesday she will introduce legislation shortly to extend local government terms from three years to four. The change is to take effect in time for elections next fall.
Oakes said the change comes after the Union of B.C. Municipalities supported it at their convention last September. The issue has been debated many times and has been divisive over the years, with some rural politicians arguing against extending the commitment for jobs with little pay.
Oakes, who served two terms on Quesnel city council before being elected to the B.C. legislature last year, said she had her own doubts about it when it was debated during that time. But she has made up her mind.
“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,” Oakes said. “It provides opportunities for local government officials to understand their projects and to carry them through.”
The change would mean the next municipal election would be held in 2018, on a schedule that follows provincial elections by one year. Oakes said there was no intent to avoid having both elections at the same time, and she is acting in response to the UBCM’s vote to go ahead.
Asked if the legislation would include a “Rob Ford clause” to remove politicians who misbehave while in office, Oakes said the ministry is examining changes to the oath of office to “provide more tools” to deal with such situations.