Alberta looks at change to municipal terms

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi



CALGARY -- The province is seeking voter input on whether to extend municipal terms to four years and change election season from fall to spring.

A consultation survey, launched Monday with plans to run until July 31, will also ask whether term limits should be imposed on municipal politicians.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi prefers a fall election because door-knocking in the middle of winter for a spring election could be challenging.

But the mayor also said holding a spring election may actually solve some of council's budget cycle problems.

"Right now we elect people in October and six weeks later we ask them to pass a huge budget," Nenshi told reporters.

"If we elected them in the spring, they have some time to get up to speed before they pass the budget."

On the subject of expanding council's three-year term to four, Nenshi said he remains "agnostic" about the matter.

Ald. Brian Pincott, who voted with a council majority last year in favour of the move to four-year terms, said adding a year would mean politicians could work more efficiently and effectively.

"It takes a year for council to figure out how to work together well, a second year you get a lot of work done, and by the third year everybody starts thinking about re-election," he said.

"By moving it to four years you end up doubling the amount of really aggressive work time that you can get done."

Pincott said setting a term limit on civic politicians' years in office doesn't present a clear-cut favourable answer.

Engaged, efficient and passionate political representatives should stay in office longer and "crappy" ones should go sooner, Pincott said.

Nenshi said he doesn't believe in term limits.

"I think campaign finance reform is the answer to this because as long as you have free, open and fair elections where challengers have an opportunity to challenge, then people should have the right to decide whether they want to keep their representatives or not."

Log on to municipalaffairs.alberta.ca to participate in the survey.

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