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Four more years?

Whistler councillors have mixed feelings on extending terms



The provincial government announced last week that it will be implementing new municipal election rules recommended by a government task force.

A joint report by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the provincial government recommended 31 changes to the municipal election process. The province said they will introduce legislation next spring so the rules will be in effect for the municipal elections in the fall of 2011.

Most of the recommendations are concerned with campaign finance, including banning anonymous campaign donations, capping the amount of campaign donations and making campaign finance disclosure statements available earlier and in an electronically searchable format.

There is one recommendation that stands out and has received mixed reactions from Whistler council - and surely from councils across B.C. It could potentially change the course of municipal politics in the province: four-year terms instead of three.

Pique spoke to five of the seven council members to get their thoughts on the changes. Five members that we spoke to spoke to two issues: banning anonymous campaign donors and extending council terms to four year. (Eckhard Zeidler didn't comment on donation bans and Grant Lamont was unavailable for comment by press time).

On banning anonymous donors, they all agreed it's a good idea (Ted Milner said it might be "overkill" but still agreed). On four-year terms, well... not so much.

Ted Milner: For the change

He said that that a four-year term is "probably a good idea" in that, with an extra year, council has more time to follow through with whatever projects they have started before voters head to the polls.

"I don't think it should affect us either way, good or bad frankly," he said in a phone interview. "I think the old two-year terms were not long enough, they'd go by so fast you could hardly do anything.

"Either way, if you're going to be screwin' up, you're going to screw it up over three or four years," he joked.

He said he hasn't decided yet whether or not he'll run in the 2011 election but he says an extra year on the term won't make much of a difference to him.

"Three years goes by so fast, I reckon four will too," he said.

Chris Quinlan: For the change

"I would agree with part of the reasoning for (four terms)," Quinlan told Pique . "The amount of time it takes for a councillor to get up to speed on everything and actually see some movement made forward, you know, it's a year to get people... functioning as a contributing member of council."