A report calls for the establishment of a two-term limit for serving on council

Report calls for limits on council

The final report into local governance did not mince words, but neither did its critics.

The chair of the committee that prepared the report also publicly apologized for the wording of a recommendation that calls for the establishment of a two-term limit for the mayor and councillors while defending its substance.

“Term limits would resolve concerns we heard that councillors go past their ‘best before’ date, would permit fresh ideas and perspectives more frequently, and prevent what amounts to career politicians in Saanich,” reads the final report of the Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee (GRCAC) submitted to council Monday.

John Schmuck, committee chair, acknowledged that the term ‘best before’ could be hurtful. “For this, I truly apologize,” he said during his opening remarks in presenting the report.

The committee emerged after nearly nine out of 10 voters during the last municipal election supported a community-based review of Saanich’s governance structure and policies as well as its regional partnerships through the Capital Regional District.

The report includes 30 recommendations, some of which Saanich will not able to implement without changes in provincial legislation. But if many recommendations remain theoretical at this stage, some have already caused considerable stir, perhaps none more so than the proposed term limit for council and its language that speaks of ‘career politicians’ who are past their ‘best before date.’

Perhaps sensing controversy, the report softens its own language around the proposed term limit.

“However, we see the real problem is not how long councillors serve, it’s how little public engagement there is in civic elections and subsequent holding of elected officials to account. It should be the electorate that imposes term limits, particularly on councillors, who are not performing well.”

While the report does not mention any specific names of local career politicians, it attempts to offer a definition. “A number of the councillors have been on council for many terms,” it read. “Some are, in effect, career politicians.”

Other parts of the report offered a more general critique of council. “The committee found that the [council] tends to react rather than lead, and tries to manage rather than govern,” it read.

The subject of regional amalgamation also looms large in the report, if only to underscore its complexity and the lack of consensus around it.

“There wasn’t consensus on the [committee] about whether Saanich should pursue an amalgamation of some kind,” it read.

“However, there does seem to be a consensus that discussion on this topic shouldn’t be shied away from. We feel this is probably consistent with the views of the general population of Saanich, based on our consultations and community feedback.”

According to the report, Saanich residents appear to be all over the map. “We heard a wide-range of perspectives, including strong support for and against amalgamation, a desire to continue to pursue some form of shared services with adjacent municipalities, the acknowledgment that more study may be needed on this issue and a desire to have a more specific question relating to amalgamation on the ballot in 2018,” it read.

As for specific recommendations concerning amalgamation, it calls on Saanich to lobby the province for the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly on Amalgamation with interested municipalities in the Greater Victoria Region and actively support and participate in the assembly.

Public reactions varied and critics did not hold back. “This report does not meet my expectations,” said Haji Charania, president of the North-Quadra Community Association. “I’m not satisfied.” Katherine Whitworth said the report drew false conclusions based on flawed data. “I urge you not to action this report,” she said.

Darrell Wick struck a more conciliatory tone in praising the working ethic of the committee, but also pointed out various contradictions.

However, the report also received praise. Rob Wickson called the report a strong starting point. The real discussion begins now, he said. Larry Lane meanwhile praised the committee for showing “considerable backbone” in bringing the report forward.

Council received the report and will consider the recommendations at its Dec. 18 committee of the whole meeting.

While council members generally praised the work of the committee in preparing the report, Coun. Colin Plant said he was “greatly concerned about the lack of input” in raising questions about the utility of the report.

Mayor Richard Atwell said he was less concerned about the level of public input in praising the quality of the report. The challenge for council will be for council to prioritize, he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria PD will continue to patrol James Bay for wolf seen Saturday

But police also say they will return to regular duties

Local Monarchist says Saanich Peninsula would be a ‘great place’ for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Bruce Hallsor also expects the couple’s professional opportunities to lie outside Greater Victoria

Court rejects mistrial for accused Victoria drug dealer who fired his lawyer

Horst Schirmer filed a mistrial application on basis of receiving incompetent representation

Saanich seeks young residents to serve on 2020 advisory committees

Youth members must be between 16 and 24 years old

VicPD confirms wolf sighting in James Bay

Police ask that children and pets be taken inside

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Most Read