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For the first time on September 1, 2020, the West Nipissing Municipal Council conducted business on the Zoom platform
by Isabel Mosseler
September 02 2020
Verner residents remain without municipal representation for the foreseeable future, as West Nipissing municipal council are still evenly split on how to proceed with filling the council vacancy in Ward 7. Although the mayor and council members were more civil than usual during the first ever Zoom council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, the divisions remain, with moments of snide comments, points of order, councillors refusing to take back insulting comments, and posturing about the democratic process.
Administration provided a report on options, timelines and costs, as well as a past history of two appointments in 2009 and 2007 and a by-election in 2003 under comparable conditions. The option of a by-election would see a nomination period, with an election taking up to 3 months at an estimated cost of $6,500 to $8,500, with any other attendant costs of holding a by-election during a pandemic. The appointment route was presented as more cost-efficient and time-efficient, with council having three options: appointing the second place candidate from the previous election, calling for applications for the position and reviewing those, or appointing someone directly (cited as least favourable). Those processes could be undertaken almost immediately or within a short period if entertaining more than one candidate.
The Chair of General Government, Coun. Lise Sénécal, directed council to first discuss the option of appointment by roundtable and then to discuss by-election by a second roundtable. The results were predictable, and disappointing to everyone – a stalemate with four councillors preferring the appointment process (Chris Fisher, Rolly Larabie, Leo Malette and Dan Roveda) and four preferring by-election (Yvon Duhaime, Denis Sénécal, Lise Sénécal, Mayor Joanne Savage). Those favouring a by-election promoted the notion of democratic process and letting the citizens of Verner decide for themselves. Those for appointment said that a council decision remains democratic and appointment would be the most time efficient, at no cost to the taxpayer.
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