After weeks of uncertainty, NWR town council finally has full slate of councillors
© Labradorian file photo
The Town of North West River swore in three new councillors on Oct. 23, after a by-election on Oct. 22. Nominations had been called earlier this month, after one of the acclaimed councillors quit council.
They are two months behind schedule, but the town of North West River can finally move ahead with regular council business.
“I am looking forward to getting down to business,” said Art Williams, who was the Acting Mayor prior to the swearing in of three new councillors on Oct. 24.
The council had been acclaimed in the Sept. 24 municipal elections, with four previous councillors and one new councilor. The council decided it needed to hold another nomination to try to fill its two vacant seats, and set the date for Oct. 1.
On that day, a former councillor decided to resign, leaving three seats to fill.
With four people having put their names forward for the spots, a by-election was held on Oct. 23, with Marilyn Michelin, Kimberley Mitchell and Glendene Beals as the successful candidates.
The three new councillors were sworn in on Oct. 24, prior to the start of their first official regular council meeting that same evening. The positions of mayor and deputy mayor were voted on that evening (more on that in the Nov. 4 edition of The Labradorian).
Although Williams said he is pleased to have three new councillors on board, he feels that they should have been able to add an extra council seat for that one extra person who expressed interest in joining council.
“It doesn’t make sense to me. We have a small community, we haven’t had a regular election in years, and we had four people come forward for the nomination last month — we think that’s a good thing,” said Williams.
“But Municipal Affairs won’t approve us taking on four new councillors. We (had) to have a by-election to elect three, and then hold another election to get another one.”
Willams said the council will decide whether or not to try to move forward in the process to add an extra councillor position.
‘Follow the Act’
A spokesperson for the Department of Municipal Affairs said it is not as simple as just adding another position to the council, even if it is just one more spot.
“There were four councillors elected by acclamation in accordance with the Municipal Elections Act at the end of nomination days on Aug 27 and Aug 28, and those four constituted a quorum and formed the new town council,” said the spokesperson.
“They then, as the new council, set a by election day and nomination date in accordance with the Act and that nomination day took place on Oct 1st with the results being four more people nominated. Those results should have generated the need for a by-election to be held on Oct 22nd which would have filled the three vacant seats.”
However, said the spokesperson, at mid-morning on the day of the by-election nominations, one of the councillors elected by acclamation (at the close of nominations on Aug 28th) resigned.
“The town contacted us, to ask whether they could amend their call for nominations mid stream, and change the notice to reflect that they were seeking to fill four seats now rather than three.
“We reviewed the request and determined that as per the rules set out in the Act, they could not adjust the number of nominees mid-day on nomination day.”
As a result, and in accordance with the Act, the October 22 by-election proceeded to fill three of the four vacant seats.
The spokesperson said this approach is necessary in order to comply with the Act.
“It is important that the notice periods outlined in the Act are followed to ensure that the process proceeds democratically,” said the spokesperson. “To change the number of seats being filled from three to four would not be consistent with the legislation.”
The spokesperson said a further by-election for the remaining vacancy will need to held in accordance with section 11 of the Act.
“This date will be determined in the near future by the town in consultation with the Department of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs.”