Lantzville council size up for vote

The District of Lantzville will hold a referendum on reducing seats on council from seven to five.

Lantzville residents will decide just how much political representation they want when they head to the polls this year.

District of Lantzville politicians will put the issue of downsizing council to referendum in the upcoming civic election.

In a 4-3 vote Monday, politicians passed third reading of a bylaw to change political representation required under the B.C. Community Charter, and approved a referendum question. Residents will be asked if the size of council should be cut back from a mayor and six councillors to a mayor and four. Changes would take effect in 2018.

The question was first posed this year by Coun. Jennifer Millbank who pointed out that while the municipality is the size of a town that requires only five representatives, its geographic area and designation as a district mandates it to elect seven. As a result, the district has the same representation as an urban centre of 50,000, according to Millbank, who questioned if it’s necessary when most of the district is undeveloped.

Cutting two seats from council could mean “fairly significant” cost savings and improved governance, she said.

But the issue isn’t without opposition. Coun. Brian Dempsey wants to continue to see the chance for broad representation, and believes a smaller council would reduce the opportunity for people to consider running for council. Coun. Graham Savage calls the potential downsize a negative move, but said he has no objection to the issue going to referendum.