Request denied: Labrador City elections going ahead as scheduled

Council had asked for elections to be delayed so they could spend more time considering amalgamation with Wabush. However, the Department of Municipal Affairs turned them down.

Council asked for delay, but Department of Municipal Affairs said no

Karen Oldford, mayor of Labrador City, was hoping to give residents more time to ask a seasoned council about amalgamation with Wabush. (CBC)

A request for a later Labrador City municipal election date has been denied. 

The Labrador City council members asked the Department of Municipal affairs for an extension of up to five months, saying they wanted more time to consider the long-awaited feasibility study about amalgamating with Wabush.

However, the department turned the request down and the election will go ahead on September 26, like every other municipality in the province. 

"It is a lost opportunity for the residents to ask questions from the councilors who have been around my table from four to eight years, who have the knowledge and experience to be able to answer the questions," Mayor Karen Oldford told CBC's Labrador Morning.

Steep learning curve

Oldford said in addition to putting residents at a disadvantage, it's also tough on newly-elected councillors. Anyone new to the job has to familiarize themselves with the Municipalities Act and the Land Use Planning Act, while getting up to speed on the city's budget and budgetary process — September is not only election time, it's budget time.  

Those elected to the Labrador City council for the first time will be adding the feasibility study to their plate too. The study was delayed and is now due to arrive a few weeks before the election.

The mayors of Labrador City and Wabush hug it out. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"Our new town councils that are elected are going to be getting the results of the feasibility study and talking to our 7,000 residents of Labrador City of voting age around the future of their community, trying to answer their questions while they're on that steep learning curve," she said.

Tallying up the delays with the study, the time needed for public consultation, acclimatization of a new council and a possible plebiscite vote on amalgamation, any sort of movement is now a long ways off.

No race for mayor

Labrador City doesn't have a separate race for a mayor this year. Instead, the public will elect a council and the elected council will choose the mayor.

Karen Oldford says newly-elected council members have a steep learning curve. (CBC)

"If you have a separate race for mayor and two or three of your councillors want to become mayor, that means that at least two of them are going to be left away," she said.

"Now you're not going to have the ability as a resident to have their voices at the table."

Oldford running?

Oldford hasn't officially announced what her intentions are this year. The mayor of Labrador City isn't a salaried position, and Oldford said she's struggling to balance the demands of both the mayorship and her day job, which doesn't give her much opportunity to govern beyond lunch breaks and time after work.

"I love what I do, I have to tell you," she said.  

"I am leaning towards running for council, but I haven't truly made up my whole mind."

With files from Labrador Morning