Greenwood council consults community over by-election
The Greenwood city council is divided about holding a by-election to replace Councillor Barb Colin who passed away late last year. After council successfully sought a ministerial order in December to give the city an exemption from a by-election, Mayor Colleen Lang introduced a motion at their meeting on Monday night to proceed.
While the vote was a tie and the motion was defeated, council agreed to review the decision and meet again on Monday, Jan. 17 to discuss options. If the by-election proceeds the city could be looking at costs in excess of $7000 for elections in 2011 – double what they had anticipated.
At their council meeting in December City Administrator Gerry Henke was appointed as the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) to start the election process. But council subsequently received permission from the province to delay the election until the required November 2011 general municipal elections.
The order, from Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, arrived on Dec. 22. According to Henke the cost of an election is about $3600, and that cost could be saved.
Councillor Christopher Stevenson explained that council sought the order because of how soon the general elections are for the city.
“It takes (a new councillor) time, its going to take them time to acclimatize,” said Stephenson. “So what benefit is there to the community? I think when you add up everything the cost of the election, the cost of the councillor being there – it’s not worth it.”
Stevenson said that council had been working on the exemption for two months and even involved MLA John Slater’s office. “There are all kinds of people who went out of their way to help us with this,” said Stephenson. “It doesn’t happen very often that they give you an exemption. But they took our situation into account and gave us something that they almost never do.”
Lang had no comment in regards to the meeting itself and her decision to re-introduce the topic but is looking for community input to help council decide.
“It is up to the people to say yes or no on a poll,” said Lang. “I will say that I was not influenced by anyone. I weighed the pros and cons very carefully. The result of the poll will be given at the next meeting then council will vote. What happened is in the past and we have to move forward regardless.”
Despite the flip-flop in the debate, council did rescind the motion to appoint Henke CEO and will have to start the process all over again should they decide to proceed and the election might be as late as the spring.
A mail-out poll has been sent to all Greenwood residents and answers must be received by Friday evening Jan. 14.