Council says ‘nay’ to four-year terms

FORT FRANCES—The issue of whether the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 should be amended to allow councillors and trustees to sit for four-year terms is dead here after it was given a thumbs down by town council Monday night.
Originally coming before council as a request from the Municipality of Clarington to support a resolution amending the act, the matter was referred to the town’s four executive committees for a recommendation.
However, conflicting recommendations from three committees resulted in councillors having to vote on it during Monday night’s regular meeting.
A report from the Administration and Finance executive committee recommended the resolution not be supported while the Planning and Development one indicated it should be.
Meanwhile, the Operations and Facilities executive committee indicated the “present three-year council term is working quite well and would like to keep the status quo, but really has no concern with supporting Clarington’s resolution of a four-year term” if it’s the wish of council.
And the Community Services executive committee reported this issue “is mixed with pros and cons either way.”
But ultimately, “it was the unanimous feeling of the committee that it is not a high priority issue, and hoped the province would not spend any time dealing with this issue when there are far more important municipal issues to deal with.”
“I think some guys voted differently depending on what committee they’re on,” said Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig, noting council would have to vote whether or not to support the resolution from the Municipality of Clarington.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft admitted he spoke in favour while on the Planning and Development executive committee, noting four-year terms would keep candidates who weren’t truly serious about the job from running for council, and serve as a cost savings for the town since elections wouldn’t have to be held as often.
“And at Community Services, Tannis [Drysdale] said if you put something like this on the table, it’s going to displace more important legislation,” he added.
“I’m not going to stick to my guns. I’ll go with council on this one.”
“I don’t give a hoot,” said Coun. Struchan Gilson.
“I was wavering, too, but I’m back to three [years],” remarked Coun. Neil Kabel.
“Coun. Wiedenhoeft expressed my opinion well. I wonder what the net time loss is on all municipalities across the province as they deal with this most unimportant issue,” said Coun. Drysdale, before adding the three-year term should stay as it is.
Both Couns. Roy Avis and Todd Hamilton agreed the act should remain status quo, so all six councillors voted against supporting the resolution from the Municipality of Clarington.
Mayor Dan Onichuk did not have to vote since the other six members of council were in agreement.