With Stuart McCormack resigned from council, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she’s not sure what council will do about replacing him.
Ontario’s guide for municipal councillors says, “If a municipal council seat becomes vacant, council must declare the council seat vacant at its next meeting.”
The guide says a copy of the declaration must be forwarded immediately to an upper-tier council if the declaration is made by a lower-tier and vice versa.
“Within 60 days of declaring the council seat vacant, council must decide whether to fill the vacancy through a by-election or by appointment for the remainder of the council term.”
Disero said council will declare the seat vacant at its July 20 meeting “and then has 60 days to figure out how to fill it.”
She said staff will report to council on the best options.
The options are to hold a by-election or to have council appoint a new member.
By law, council cannot leave the seat vacant, she said.
“At one time there were rules on timing for whether an appointment or by-election was required. It is now up to council to decide whether to appoint or call a by-election.”
Disero said if she had to guess, she would say council will likely appoint somebody.
“My guess, and I do not know what council will do at the best of times, is to appoint,” she said in response to questions Thursday.
“It would be very costly to have a by-election.”
According to the Ontario Municipal Act, council can choose anyone to fill the position, provided they agree to join council, she said.
However, she said she thinks the “fair thing to do” is to choose the person who was next in the results from the 2018 election. That person was Sandra O'Connor, who finished ninth in balloting.
“This council only started 18 months ago with another two and a half years left. It was a democratic vote and I think it is fair,” Disero said.
“But as I said, members of council may have different opinions.”
During the pandemic, the town’s emergency control group, including Disero and interim CAO Sheldon Randall, has delegated authority to make decisions for council.
But Disero said the decision to fill the seat is something the emergency group can’t make and that it will be left to council to decide what to do.