Mackenzie Takes Next Step Towards Regional Representation
Mackenzie, B.C. – The Prince George School Board has outlined the steps required to achieve regional representation in the district.
In a letter sent April 28 from Board Chair Tony Cable to Mackenzie Mayor Pat Crook (the letter was only made public last week), Cable said any change to the current at-large voting system would require a Ministerial Order under Sections 30(4) and 30(5) of the School Act.
Under the Act, a person or board must state the rationale for a variation in the number of trustees or in the trustee electoral area.
The procedure must also include a form of public consultation, engagement with appropriate municipal councils, regional boards, First Nations and other special interest groups, and a letter must be sent to the Minister of Education requesting a change.
Mackenzie Mayor Pat Crook, who has been working publicly in favour of regional representation the last year or so, was pleased.
“I thought it was good because they basically outlined the process we have to go through in order to achieve the area representation.”
He says they’ve already started the process in hopes of having the system changed in time for the next local elections scheduled for 2018.
“We’re basically going to be working with the McLeod Lake Indian Band to get a representative elected for Mackenzie/McLeod Lake and we’re trying to put together a committee of concerned citizens to drive this project forward.”
Crook says he discussed the issue with Education Minister Mike Bernier at last months North Central Local Government Association AGM in Dawson Creek.
“Just to make sure he was aware of what we’re doing and he said ‘yeah, it’s kind of odd because the Dawson Creek/Fort St John school district have area representation.’”
Crook says regional representation can be achieved in numerous forms.
“Some districts utilize the political boundaries of their regional district and have a mix of trustees that represent specific municipalities and others who represent one or more of a region’s electoral area.”
He says other districts divide their region into community areas and elect one or more trustees from each area.
Crook says examples of school districts with geographic representation close-by include School District 73 (Kamloops/Thompson), School District 27 (Williams Lake), School District 22 (Vernon) and School District 82 (Coast Mountains).
Ultimately, he says having a trustee located in Mackenzie would provide for better representation.
“Having a trustee in the area would give a voice to the real concerns in the community.”
Crook says he already has the support of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (in fact the District has also supported electing another trustee for the Robson Valley).