In the wake of the revelation that a Prince George city politician was behind on his property taxes when elected to office, one of Coun. Cameron Stolz's council colleagues is interested in having the province's rules changed.
Coun. Brian Skakun said he has been researching eligibility requirements for running for local government positions.
He cited regulations in Alberta that prevent someone from running for local government if they owe money to the municipality.
"I think, from my perspective, what it does it ensures that something doesn't happen that happened with Coun. Stolz," said Skakun. "I guess we're held up to a higher standard and we're members in good standing in the community, if you will, when it comes to elections."
Skakun said he is going to talk to city administration about how to proceed with the idea that a question be included in the nomination package asking if the potential candidate is in arrears of their taxes.
"So I'm thinking about moving this forward and possibly, if the intergovernmental resolutions committee that I'm on is supportive to bring it to council, we might bring it to council in the spring and forward it to the [Union of B.C. Municipalities]."
Unlike comparable legislation in Alberta, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador B.C.'s Local Government Act does not disqualify someone for running for office if they owe the municipality more than $500. The main ineligibility factors are being a judge, a local government employee or otherwise disqualified by other laws.
"If you look at a lot of service clubs, they have those things. Unions, you have to be members in good standing, you need to pay your dues. And if you're not, you can be expelled from the union," said Skakun. "But we're not talking about expelling a councillor, what we're talking about is making sure that everyone who does run for local office has their taxes paid up to date."
There may also be a role for such a discussion when council meets as committee of the whole to continue discussions about a code of conduct.
Such a rule wouldn't prevent someone from owing the city money once elected, and Skakun stressed, that once someone is on council there's isn't much the body can legally do to remove them from their position.
"But it would at least send a signal to those running for office that they better pay their taxes and such," he said.