Call to extend municipal council terms to 4 years

The Lower Mainland Local Government Association pushing for extending council terms to four years from three at its May meeting

Would you like your local councillors to stick around longer?

For the folks who represent the cities and districts in the Vancouver area, four is better than three.

The Lower Mainland Local Government Association decided to push for extending council terms from three years to four at its May meeting and sent on the request to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this September in Vancouver.

The idea came up at the local government association’s conference in May following the provincial election, said Maple Ridge Coun. Corisa Bell, second vice-president of LMLGA.

With municipal elections taking place every four years near the time of the B.C. election, there would be less chance of councillors jumping ship for the big provincial show.

“If an elected official knows they want to run provincially, then they just don’t run municipally. It’s one less way for elected officials to be viewed in a negative light because they want to serve provincially,” Bell said.

Pitt Meadows councillor and newly elected MLA Doug Bing, who’s no longer drawing a councillor salary, says most provinces have already made the switch.

“B.C. is one of the minority.

“I’ve always supported it. I’ve always felt the last year of a municipal term is not as productive as the prior ones.”

Bing said a motion to extend council terms was rejected two years ago at UBCM because mayors and councillors from northern B.C. cities thought a four-year term would discourage people from running.

Bing, who resigns as Pitt Meadows councillor in January, to become a full-time Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, said the last year of a three-year term isn’t as productive as the first two because councillors are slipping into election and campaign mode. Adding an extra year would also allow councillors to build their expertise before worrying about re-election.

“I would think having a four-year term, you’ll have three productive years,” Bing said. The term goes by fast he added.

If UBCM approves the resolution in September, the idea would be passed on to province.

“I don’t see why the provincial government would be opposed to changing it.”