After 14 years and over four-terms as a councillor, Kris Nielson might know a few things about how local governments work and what the job entails.
Nielson will be giving a free seminar geared at those interested in running for district council seats in order to give people an idea what is involved and how to prepare.
And because the session will be held before the deadline for nominations for the upcoming fall election, Nielson said even if a person is just “kicking the tires” of the job, the session could help make the decision easier.
“It gives people an opportunity to get a sense of ‘well, what is this about?’” said Nielson.
While from the outside, it might be easy to say what you would do differently, Nielson said there can be factors at play a person can’t see.
With policy, regulations and the Municipal Act all playing a part, sometimes things may not work in a way which necessarily makes sense from the outside.
There also may be more involved processes before things can happen because as a government there is due diligence and policy deciding how things can or can’t be done.
“Some things are cut and dry and other things aren’t so cut and dry,” said Nielson.
But the session isn’t meant to scare anyone off, only to give a perspective on factors effecting the job such as budget and an overview of how municipalities fit into the bigger picture of government.
Part of the Chamber of Commerce Speaker Series, a partnership between the College of New Caledonia (CNC) and the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce, the session will help to address the lack of transition sometimes for incoming councillors and help initiate new councillors more smoothly into the role.
Sitting councillor Brenda Gouglas said the transition can be a bit rough with the lack of handover training.
“It’s nice what Kris is doing, so you’ve got some idea before you even put your name forward,” said Gouglas.
She said in the past she has seen people come into the role and last only one term because the job was so different from what they thought it would be.
“There is so much to learn and your first three years is very intense,” said Gouglas, with the need to become familiar with things such as the community charter.
“I think they assume that people are following what council are doing over time, but I don’t know that’s really the case in municipal politics,” said Gouglas.
She also recommended people interested come to some council meetings and see how it works and find out what the council is currently dealing with or working on.
Councillors can attend a provincial orientation after being elected, but it isn’t offered until a couple of months into the job.
The information at the provincial orientation session is also very broad, according to Nielson, and this one will be more tailored to things important in the local community.
The free session will take place on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the local CNC. It will include lunch, and those interested in attending should r.s.v.p. the college at 996-7019, as seats are limited.