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Two votes later, small Nova Scotia town still trying to fill council seat

Mulgrave is making yet another effort to fill a vacant council seat, even though nobody apparently wants the job and the town itself seeks to dissolve next year and join with the surrounding county.

'The Elections Act says we have to keep trying to fill the seat,' says Mulgrave interim CAO Kevin Matheson

Mulgrave's council will wait until early 2017 to set the next date for another special election. (Google Streetview)

A small Nova Scotia town is making yet another effort to fill a vacant council seat, even though nobody apparently wants the job and the town itself seeks to dissolve next year and join with the surrounding county.

Only three of four council positions were filled in the October municipal election in Mulgrave, a town of fewer than 800 people on the Strait of Canso. No one stepped forward in a special election that was held afterwards. 

"The Elections Act says we have to keep trying to fill the seat," said Kevin Matheson, interim chief administrative officer. "Typically five to seven weeks after your last one."

Decision could take several months

Council voted last year in favour of dissolving the town and becoming part of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, which is opposed to the idea.

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has set a hearing for the amalgamation request for March 20-23, but a final decision could take several months.

"If the decision was issued by the board and the final date was less than six months away we could apply not to fill the seat, but we're not at that stage yet," said Matheson.

Special election date yet to be set

Guysborough is opposed to taking in Mulgrave and a lawyer for the county has warned of "an unacceptable economic burden on the current residents of the municipality." Officials are concerned about repair costs for the main road that runs through Mulgrave. They believe it needs millions of dollars worth of work and want the province to share the bill.

In the meantime, Mulgrave's council will wait until early 2017 to set the next date for another special election.

"We're going to go out and see if there is someone willing to put in for the seat," said Matheson. "We don't want to rush out, incur a lot of expense, if we know no one is going to fill."

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca