Kanata North residents will get an appointed councillor
City clerk recommended a byelection in January, but city council chose the appointee route
Residents in Kanata North will not head to a byelection to elect a councillor as their next representative will be appointed by Ottawa city council at a special meeting on Nov. 10.
City council decided Wednesday to fill the seat left vacant by Jenna Sudds, who was recently elected as a Liberal MP, through an appointment, even though the city clerk recommended a byelection in January.
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Councillors Scott Moffatt, Rick Chiarelli, and Theresa Kavanagh dissented on their colleagues' decision to instead pursue the appointment route.
Many council members thought a byelection was too expensive — it could cost more than $550,000 due to COVID-19 restrictions — and would fall too close to the next municipal election in October 2022.
They also felt a new councillor would be elected too late to make key decisions. The city's 2022 budget will be approved in December, for instance.
A major file in Kanata North also remains unsettled: the fight over Clublink's plans to develop homes on the Kanata Golf and Country Club. Residents had urged councillors to appoint their former councillor Marianne Wilkinson because she knows that dispute well.
Appointee can't be prevented from running in 2022
Neighbouring Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley supported appointing someone, but said an open call was important.
"Quite frankly there's been some pretty heavy lobbying from one or two individuals at the start here," Hubley said.
"I want to make sure everyone in Kanata North knows this is a process they can participate in … that we're not going to go with one candidate and run with it."
Some councillors were concerned there is no way to prevent the Kanata North appointee from running for election next year. Incumbents often have an advantage at election time.
City clerk Rick O'Connor said a pledge from an applicant not to run next year would only be a "political promise," such as the promise to not raise taxes, and it would not hold up in court.
Moffatt said the seat should be won in a byelection, as happened in 2006. There were similar time pressures when Bob Monette replaced Herb Kreling in Orléans in a vote held only 10 months before that year's general election.
"We live in a democratic society, and we elect our representatives and that's the process we should always follow regardless of timelines," Moffatt said.
WATCH | Community groups prefer appointment over byelection:
Process for appointment
The vacancy will now be advertised on Oct. 18, and people can apply from Oct. 25 to 29. They need to be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen who is either an Ottawa resident or owns property in the City of Ottawa.
The clerk will provide a report to city council by Nov. 5 and applicants will be allowed to make a five-minute presentation to council members at the special meeting on Nov 10. Councillors can ask one question to each of the applicants.
A candidate has to receive more than half of the votes cast by council. If someone fails to do that on the first vote, the applicant who receives the fewest votes is removed from the list. The process is repeated until an applicant receives more than 50 per cent of the votes.
In the case of a three-way tie, a "lot" will be used to exclude one of the candidates by writing the names on pieces of paper, which are placed in a container, and the name that's drawn will be excluded from further voting.
In the case of a two-way tie, the successful candidate will be chosen by lot.
Between now and the special meeting, Kanata North's neighbouring councillors, Hubley and Theresa Kavanagh, will act as caretakers for the ward.