Council is currently considering what it should do with the council seat which has been vacant since earlier this year.

The issue was raised at the end of the last council meeting on July 9. Every councillor took time to weigh in on the issue, with each voicing their support for one three options.

They include leaving the seat open, holding a by-election, or acclaiming the person on the ballot during the previous election.

Three councillors — Keith Dohey, Robert Bouchard and Emily Chambers — said their preference would be to leave the seat open.

Candidates for council at an Oct. 10 all-candidates’ forum – at which the legalization of cannabis was a prominent topic. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo.

Dohey said appointing the next person on the ballot would not be transparent, while holding a by-election would be time consuming and costly.

Having one less councillor would also save the town recoup money on their salary. At the end of the meeting, Dohey put forward a motion to keep the seat empty until the next election.

“My preference would be to leave open,” he said. “It’s costing us more to have council in the past.”

This is not the first time council has been faced with having to fill a vacancy. During the last council, Mike Maher resigned his seat over the 2016 Christmas holidays. At the time it was decided to leave the seat vacant.

Robert Bouchard, who was previously on council when a vacancy was filled with the next person on the ballot, said there was public backlash against that decision.

However, he was not in favour of holding a by-election.

“For right now I believe in leaving it empty,” he said.

Three remaining councillors were in favour of filling the seat, although they differed on their preferred method.

Coun. Brian Willows said he would be in favour of appointing the next person on the ballot because it was a tie which was decided by pulling a name out of a hat.

“This is a different situation that we had in the past in that it was a tie and we’ve only been here for seven months,” he said. “From a fairness point of view, that’s where I would land.”

Coun. Jeff Groenewegen was the only one to be vocally in favour of holding a by-election.

He said leaving the seat vacant would be undemocratic and that filling it with the next person on the ballot shouldn’t even be an option.

“It’s been pointed out that would cost money, but everything we do costs money,” he said.

Coun. Linda Duford said she could see the pros and cons of all the options and she would end up siding with the majority.

In 2015, the town held a plebiscite over whether or not it should shrink the number of councillors from eight down to six. At the time a small majority of voters – 601 to 575 – said they would rather see a smaller council.

However, in the end council, which had the final say in the matter, decided to keep that number at eight.

Council is expected to vote on Dohey’s motion at the next council meeting.