THE DEBATE over whether the city should have a full-time mayor continued as the chamber of commerce presented its reasons in favour of the idea to city council Aug. 8.
Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Carol Fielding and president Janice Paulitschke said a full-time mayor is needed to fully attract new businesses by being available when and where needed.
Several communities of similar size to Terrace, such as Dawson Creek, have full-time mayors and have indicated the decision was a good one, Fielding told council.
And many other communities along the Yellowhead highway are looking at the idea, she added.
“The mayor’s job has changed,” she said.
She said a full time mayor is also needed to apply for government grants.
“The community needs to lobby and fight. There is no better door opener than the mayor. We see the mayor as being a key role,” Fielding said.
“We need to make changes happen now. We need to let everyone know we’re open for business in a big way,” she said.
“We need to spend a buck to make a buck.”
Councillor Brian Downie said three years ago, the city did a survey of communities with populations of 5,000 to 10,000 and found only two places had full-time mayors: Dawson Creek and Squamish.
If there’s more communities now with full-time mayors, then the city could benefit from knowing of their experience, he said.
Councillor Brad Pollard said the mayor is committed to his job but surely wasn’t spending 40 hours bringing development to the city.
“What are we going to make him do to fill the rest of his time?” asked Pollard.
Fielding said that needed to be looked at.
“We know that there’s a ton of stuff to be done,” she said.
A full-time mayor’s position may not be a 40 hour per week job but it would make the mayor more readily available, she added.
Bruce Bidgood said that making the mayor’s position full time would limit potential mayoral candidates as people would have to quit their job to be mayor, which many, including him, might not do because the mayor’s job would pay less.
Lynne Christiansen said that making the mayor’s job full time could bring in those who are just looking for a job and you’d have to question their motives.
“I guess I think that it works the way it is now,” said Christiansen.
Downie said some people would say the mayor is accessible and does a good job being accessible so he wondered what the added value be of having a full-time mayor.
Fielding said that the chamber office gets calls from people not able to contact businesses in the city and if the mayor was full time, it would help with that issue.
City council voted to accept the chamber’s position chamber on the issue and has asked its senior staffers to follow through with recommendations of who might sit on a task force that would be struck to fully explore the issue.
There’s no time limit on when this might happen but Pernarowski told the chamber representatives the city would report back as soon as it possibly could.
The chamber does want a full-time mayor package in place in time for the November municipal elections.