Monday, March 03, 2014

CCPA: 4 year municipal elections: are we trading long term planning for accountability?

Don't usually cross-post stuff, but the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has a nice discussion about the ramifications of a four year election cycle for smaller communities.  Lots of good points.
I do understand the argument that longer terms give a longer planning horizon for major projects. This was why large municipalities in particular were pushing for the change. Many people from smaller local governments are less supportive of the change. These are people who basically get paid next to nothing and still work 40 hours a week for their communities. For many of them asking for a four year commitment might be too much...
I liked what Saskatchewan used to have in their legislation where large communities had a four year term and smaller communities had a shorter one. Here in BC only 20 of 160 municipalities have populations above 50,000. More than 100 have populations of less than 10,000. More than 40 have populations of less than 2,000. Would it have been too complicated to permit smaller communities to have shorter terms, or to have at least let them have a local option?
Worth reading the entire post.


Anonymous said...

Vancouver has a separate charter. The Province could have easily allowed them to set their own term and dates.

As many municipal councillors are retired persons who are able to meet the peculiar hours of local government, four year terms seem to be a major commitment.

I suspect here is a lot more support from the councils that have full time councillors vs. the communities that have part time.

The three North Shore Municipalities are part time councils.

Bill and Dot Bell said...

12 years on North Vancouver City council and I do not recall that we were ever too busy to meet our requirements. In the end I think many municipal politicians just do not like the responsibility (and the cost) of facing the voters every three years (the longer the better). I rather enjoyed getting out and meeting everyone and hearing the positive and negative comments.

Bill and Dot Bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Pringle said...

But % of BC's pop is in the 20 of 160 municipalities? I let a small number of people were "wagging" the the dog and want to hold BC as the only province to have 3 year terms.

4 year, set to the provincial elections to stop double dipping and municipal politicians quiting, causing expensive byelections is better.

Anonymous said...

Once more in English, please George? I've no idea what the hell you're trying to say.

Anonymous said...

Too many stories of one-issue candidates who are elected who know squat about anything else and waste staff and council's time over and over.

A 2-year term is not too long and not too short to get rid of the bozos who contributed to the problems.

Municipal governments have enough trouble, leave them alone. We wouldn't want elected officials to get in their way.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:45 pm, can you please elaborate and give examples of what you mean?

Barry Rueger said...

There's a strong argument for letting municipalities figure out their own term limits and schedules.

It seems obvious that the folks on Spuzzum council can probably better gauge what's needed in their town than the folks in Victoria.

I don't see how part-time vs full-time enters into that discussion, particularly since I doubt that anyone who's serious about being on Council could avoid having it become a full-time job.

I don't even have an elected position, but between my own interest in Lynn Valley developemnt, and my small role as part of the District's Transportation committee, I know how much time I've spent this year just getting informed and understanding our local government.

Anyone on Council must have that work load in spades.

Between reading and digesting reports, budgets, OCP documents, internal memos, zoning applications, and all of the other paper that comes with the job; and meeting with and talking to people involved, answering e-mails and phone calls, and helping out constituents... that looks like it would consume your life pretty fast.

Yes, I'm sure there are some "single issue" candidates who do nothing but turn up at Council meetings once elected, but I somehow suspect that they're the exception.