Your council could soon serve four-year terms
Municipal Affairs is reviewing the municipal election process
Depending on the results of a government review, municipal politicians could soon serve four year terms instead of the usual three.
The extended time in office is just one of a host of changes that Municipal Affairs is considering for the province. Currently, the department is conducting an open survey and has invited every municipality in the province—and every citizen—to participate.
“We committed to the review after the last set of municipal elections,” said Municipal Affairs spokesperson Cam Traynor. “There are a few changes proposed, and we want to know what is important to municipalities and to local people.”
The last election was in fall 2010. Following that, Traynor said that several municipalities—including Edmonton, Calgary, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association—requested a review of the Local Authorities Election Act, the legislation that governs things like councillor terms and voting processes in Alberta.
The act, introduced in 1983, is reviewed after every election, and was most recently updated in 2009. Along with the possibility of longer terms for councillors, the review is also looking at moving elections from the fall to the spring.
Lac La Biche County Mayor Peter Kirylchuk said that council has not yet discussed whether or not they will be participating in the review. However, he did say that four-year terms for local elected officials would be beneficial.
“There certainly are advantages to that,” Kirylchuk said. “Councillors in places that have four-year terms approve of it. Now, with the three-year terms, it seems like you’ve just got everything squared away then it’s time for another election. More time to get things done for the community would certainly be advantageous.”
And Kirylchuk said he would support moving elections to the spring, instead of the usual fall date. He explained that when council is elected in the fall, they must immediately worry about passing the annual budget—something that may be difficult for newly-elected officials. Having the election in the spring means that the new council will be starting fresh with a budget already in place.
Other proposed changes include the nomination procedure, voting eligibility, identification at polling stations, campaign financing, and the balloting procedure.
The review will conclude at the end of July, and Traynor said that any changes to the Local Authorities Election Act would be made by this fall so they can take effect before the 2013 elections. To participate in the survey, go to www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca.
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