Term limit question goes before Saanich council

Council Monday will consider whether to lobby the provincial government for municipal term limits following a review that that did not make a specific recommendation for or against the measure.

The issue appears before council after a council committee struck earlier this year had reviewed the idea following a recommendation from the governance review citizens advisory committee (GRCAC).

This independent, third-party committee had submitted a report on ways to improve internal governance, community engagement, and external governance. It recommended among other measures limiting members of council to two terms with the acknowledgement that the province would have institute such a change.

“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,” the GRCAC report read.

The recommendation and its phrase ‘best before’ caused considerable controversy in adding to a long-run debate about the idea.

Council received the GRCAC report, then forwarded it to the newly Governance Task Force Standing Committee for review. This committee consisted out of Mayor Richard Atwell as chair, Coun. Judy Brownoff, Karen Harper, Fred Haynes, and Susan Brice. This committee met three times to review the report, and came up with responses to each of the thirty recommendations, according to John Schmuck, who chaired the initial governance review citizens advisory committee (GRCAC) and served on the review committee as a non-voting member.

Two members of GRCAC attended each of the three meetings as non-voting members, and offer additional insights.

Saanich cannot unilaterally impose term limits. It must instead lobby the provincial government and the committee — to borrow a football analogy — punted on the question on whether Saanich should lobby the provincial government.

Coun. Judy Brownoff said it was not within the mandate of the smaller committee to make such a recommendation.

A memo prepared on Dec. 12 includes the following wording: “That the Committee recommends to Council that it utilizes its discretion on advocating this suggestion to [Union of British Columbia Municipalities]/Province.”

The decision to lobby the province ultimately lies with council, said Brownoff, who has previously been critical of the suggestion for the term limits, in citing the virtue of experience.

Mayor Richard Atwell agreed that the question of lobbying for term limits lies with the full council rather than a standing committee, but noted that he personally favours term limits.

“As to why the debate didn’t advocate one way or another, that’s just how it unfolded as the motion was made and seconded,” he said.

Council also punted on a number of regional issues, including the question of lobbying the province for a citizens’ assembly that would look into the question of regional amalgamation, with a mandatory referendum, following such a process.

This council cannot bind future councils to decisions that impact staff and finances, said Brownoff.

GRCAC submitted a total of 30 recommendations in October, and the reviewing committee said eight items covering a wide range of subjects required “no additional” or “no further” action at this time.

Brownoff said that term does not mean that Saanich considers these issues unimportant, with staff measures well underway. For example, the GRCAC report calls on Saanich to improve voting opportunities, and a study is currently underway.

Atwell, however, predicts the public will seize on that term. “I think that is going to draw a lot of criticism, as there is always room for improvement.”

John Schmuck, who chaired the initial governance review citizens advisory committee (GRCAC) and served on the review committee as one of two non-voting guests, said in an email from California that he hoped council considers each of the 30 recommendations on their respective merits in light of the invested resources, both in terms of volunteer time (some 5,800 hours) and financial support from Saanich for both consultants and secretarial support.

“Our expectation is that [council] does not gloss over these recommendations without serious consideration for further actions,” said Schmuck, who will not be able to attend the meeting. “It would be a lost opportunity to pursue needed changes if no further actions were to be taken.”

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: City of Colwood hosts a ‘heartwarming start’ to the holidays

Colwood Christmas Light Up Celebration sees surge in attendance

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes idle in California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Trauma sufferers support group takes shape on West Shore

Aaron’s Society open to more peer support groups with certified trauma practitioners

Hundreds of students gather at Government House to decorate Christmas Trees

The annual tradition let Grade 2 and 3 students help celebrate for the holidays

Tenants above Wellburns uncertain after ‘nightmare’ sewage flood ousts them indefinitely

Tenants evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Most Read