Letters to the Editor

Minister defends switch to four-year municipal terms

Editor: Moving to four-year terms for local elections will enhance democracy in British Columbia — not diminish it, as your Feb. 27 editorial suggests.

The decision to change from three-year to four-terms is rooted in democracy. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), representing British Columbia’s democratically-elected local governments, supports four-year terms. The BC School Trustees Association, representing British Columbia’s democratically-elected school board trustees, supports four-year terms.

In 2010, the joint B.C.-UBCM Local Government Elections Task Force recommended changes to modernize local government elections, including adoption of a four-year term of office. The task force consulted local governments, local government election stakeholders and the public before making its recommendations.

Four-year terms make sense in today’s complex world, where B.C. governments cope with economic, legal, environmental and social challenges. Four-year terms will give elected local officials more time to consult, plan and achieve community goals. Four-year terms will help manage election costs and save taxpayers money.

Also, it’s interesting to note that all other Canadian provinces hold local government elections every four years.

British Columbians are fortunate to live in a strong democracy where citizens can participate in local elections freely and fairly.

To keep our democracy strong, we need to keep the rules governing local elections up-to-date — and make changes supported by consultation and stakeholders.

I’m confident that four-year terms of office will enhance democracy in British Columbia.

Coralee Oakes,

Minister of Community, Sport And Cultural Development

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