COUNCIL TERM LIMITS
City Council, as the decision-making authority for the City of Winnipeg, constitutes a fundamental contributor to the environment in which Winnipeg business can prosper. It is for this reason that City Council must be an attractive and realistic option for those who hold leadership aspirations and seek opportunities to serve their community.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a declining level of interest in civic politics. Voter turnout appears to increase only when the Mayoral race does not include an incumbent: 34% (1986), 34% (1989), 58.4% (1992), 53.5% (1995) and 53.6% (1998).
In business and elsewhere, renewal and change are driving forces in the pursuit of new visions, ideas and approaches. The power of incumbency at City Council, however, serves as a real inhibitor to increased candidate participation. History is replete with incumbent Councillors and Mayors winning re-election, whereas instances of a non-incumbent candidate unseating a sitting Mayor or Councillor are rare.
Background (updated 2006)
On March 22, 2006, Winnipeg City Council rejected a motion (14-2) to hold a referendum on restricting Councillors’ terms in office to a two-term limit.
On Oct. 18, 2000, a report to EPC on term limits went before Council and the idea of term limits was rejected 11-4.
A Free Press poll in 2000 indicated 44% of Manitobans supported restricting the length of service of municipal politicians to two terms, while 48% were opposed. The rest were undecided.
In 2002, a Chamber survey of its members resulted in 83% voting in favour of term limits. Of those, 68% supported a two-term limit and 26% supported a three-term limit. At the time, the average tenure of the 15 Councillors was 12.2 years – three Councillors had been in office for 22 years and eight had served for 13 years or longer.
In 2006, five Councillors had more than 110 years of combined service. Three of those had each spent more than 25 years on Council.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Recommendations:
- Limit the Mayor and City Councillers to two consecutive terms in office.
- Develop a transition strategy to guide the effective implementation of term limits.
Adopted by The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board of directors, September 2002