Cold Lake City Council will finish its term with six councillors after Coun. Kelvin Plain submitted his resignation on May 9.
After four terms with the City of Cold Lake, Plain moved to a home outside of the municipality and was therefore unable to finish his term.
Chief Administration Officer Kevin Nagoya explained to council that because a general election is scheduled within the next 18months, a by-election is not legally required under the Municipal Government Act.
“This is not the first time the City of Cold Lake has had six members of council,” explained Nagoya. “It's up to the municipality what they want to do.”
The estimated cost of a by-election is$10,000. The last general election cost the city around $20,000.
Coun. Darrell MacDonald voiced his support for a by-election, arguing that it would be best to ensure a quorum at future council meetings.
“We're busy people, all of us,” said MacDonald. “If we bring in somebody new we will have the ability to stay within our means.” Coun. Chris Vining supported the by-election, but cautioned that council needed to act quickly on the resolution.
“If you're going with this, we need to get the gears turning really fast,” commented Vining. “If you're going to have the election in July or August, I'm not sure there's much of a point.”
He added, “It seems a little bit problematic.”
However, Coun. Bob Buckle disagreed, pointing out that council had functioned with six members before. He noted that by the time the new councillor was up to speed on procedure there would be six months until the next general election.
“I think it's an unnecessary cost,” said Buckle. “From a practical perspective, I don't think it's totally necessary.”
A minimum of four councillors is needed to have a quorum at a councilmeeting.
Nagoya estimated the earliest date a by-election could occur would be July13.
“Administration could not turn out anything quicker than that,” explained Nagoya.
Coun. Vicky Lefebvre pointed out that the hypothetical councillor would only have term of 14 months before the general election.
“If you do July, it'll probably be September before we get someone working,” said Lefebvre. “It's not a hill to die on.”
Mayor Craig Copeland said he was in support of a by-election, adding that he had voted for it the last time.
“Nothing's changed in my mind. I'm a big fan of filling the roster,” said Copeland. “I think it would be a great opportunity for people to come forward. It bridges experience.”
Council was hung on the vote at a 3-3 tie Vining, Copeland and MacDonald were in favour, while Buckle, Lefebvre and Coun. Duane Lay were against - putting the matter to rest. The next general election is scheduled for October 16, 2017.
Copeland said that Plain's departure leaves some very large shoes to fill.
“This council has seen many accomplishments and Kelvin was no small part of them,” said Copeland. “He has strong principles and he sticks to them. That's why he's had the trust and respect of this community and his colleagues on council. It's been a pleasure to serve Cold Lake along side Kelvin and I wish him all the best.”
He added, “It's a tough day on me. Kelvin brought a great perspective to things. He's going to be a big loss.”