Vacant Sandfield ward poses question

Adam Smith did a fine job as Central Manitoulin councillor so it was unfortunate when the pressures of business brought about his resignation.

What is surprising, however, is that with more than three years left to run in the term, Central Manitoulin council has not opted for an election to fill the vacant seat now available in the municipality’s Sandfield ward.

That is a long time and, should the economy once again take a downturn as has been predicted, the people of the Sandfield Ward, given an option, would likely prefer a municipal representative they had chosen themselves, rather than having this basic element of the democratic process—selecting their own council representative—taken away from them.

Three-plus years is a long time. Typically, candidates to fill a council vacancy caused by a resignation or death are appointed by the remaining council if there are only two or less years remaining in the term.

This is, however, a different situation and it would be prudent for Central Manitoulin Council to reconsider how this vacancy is to be filled, preferably by an election.

Interestingly, in the fairly long list of Central Manitoulin citizens who have put their names forward to be considered for appointment, there appear to be only two whose residence is actually in the Sandfield Ward.

At the time of the amalgamation of Campbell, Carnarvon and Sandfield Townships into the new Township of Central Manitoulin over 10 years ago, each of the old municipal entities was deemed to be a ward and each was guaranteed two members on council.

It was clear that the spirit of the agreement that brought about the federation of three townships into a new municipal entity anticipated that each of the wards would send two residents from their particular territory to comprise the new Council of Central Manitoulin.

Should Central Manitoulin councilors not opt for an election in this case—their best option—its members should at least consider what had been the electoral ideal of those representatives of the old townships of Sandfield, Campbell and Carnarvon when they created the new Township of Central Manitoulin and seek out individuals who have some claim on Sandfield residency.