Ottawa city council decided Wednesday not to hold a byelection to fill the vacant seat in Kanata North, instead opting for the cheaper and timelier appointment option.
Kanata–Carleton MP Jenna Sudds resigned her spot at city council shortly after her victory in the recent federal election was confirmed, leaving Ward 4 without a permanent representative with 13 months to go before the next municipal election.
Council was presented with two options to fill the seat at its Wednesday meeting: hold a byelection set for Jan. 24, 2022, which city staff gave as their formal recommendation, or appoint someone, an option offered in a motion from Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper.
Leiper said he was in favour of an appointment because he wanted a councillor in place for Kanata North residents during budget consultations and someone who could hit the ground running on the Clublink file, a controversial application for a development at a Kanata North golf course currently undergoing legal appeals.
City clerk Rick O’Connor told council that while staff recommended the byelection, they supported the appointment route.
Holding a byelection, which would put a councillor in place less than five months before candidates file nomination papers for the upcoming election in May 2022, would also be the more costly option.
Staff estimated the costs of a byelection would be around $550,000. Nomination, however, would come in at a “nominal” cost, O’Connor said.
Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt was one of a handful of councillors to take issue with the nomination process, arguing a byelection was the only way to appoint a legitimate representative for the ward.
“The process to replace people is byelection.… You let the people have the decision on their own,” he said during debate.
Leiper’s motion won out, however, with councillors Moffatt, Rick Chiarelli and Theresa Kavanagh dissenting.
Council will open up a nomination process between Oct. 25 and 29 looking for interested parties and will hear five-minute presentations from all candidates during a special meeting of council on Nov. 10. Councillors will then have the chance to ask one question each of the candidates before voting on a new representative for Kanata North.
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