By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
In order to fill the vacant seat inside council chambers, councillors have decided to open up the position to any interested individual in the City of Oshawa.
At their most recent meeting, councillors, following a motion from Councillor Dan Carter, approved an open call for submissions in order to fill the vacant seat of regional and city councillor left behind by the resignation of Bob Chapman.
The decision follows a public process that saw just over 50 people submit online feedback and a small public open house where a few residents shared their thoughts on the path forward.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion about what has happended in previous times,” said Councillor Carter. “This council took what was being said quite seriously.”
During the previous vacancy, left behind by the sudden passing of Nancy Diamond, councillors got themselves into hot water when they declared the seat vacant, and appointed Councillor Doug Sanders to the role and brought in Gail Bates to fill the city seat previously held by Sanders, all in the same meeting.
Now, the process has followed council’s Councillor Vacancy Policy, created in 2017 in response to the backlash over the previous appointments. The new policy stretches the process out over weeks, and allows for public comment.
In terms of the open call, a previous staff report, which laid out council’s options for filling the vacancy, listed the pros and cons of the current approach.
In terms of advantages, clerks noted that an open call would allow for every interested individual to be considered by council, and allows them to address council, it ensures members of the public can comment on those individuals, it provides an opportunity to identify an individual who may have a skill set not currently on council, and it allows council the chance to select an individual who represents the diversity of the Oshawa community. On the flip side, clerks noted that this approach does come with a requirement for greater administrative resources, it does not take into account the results of the previous election, and depending on the individual, may require further effort to onboard them and get them prepared for the role.
The call for interested candidates to submit their names opened on May 25, and the city will continue to accept interested and qualified individuals until June 18. An application form is available on the city’s website, and a webpage has been set up to post the names and details of potential candidates so the public has a chance to review them.
A public open house is scheduled for June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall for any member of the public who may want to learn more about the process.
In order to qualify for the position, the person must be at least 18-years-old, and own or rent property (or be the spouse of someone who does) within the City of Oshawa. Interested candidates are urged to include a one-page summary of why they are interested in the position along with their application.
Following the closing of the submission period, the city clerk will review the applications to ensure the candidates meet the required criteria, before the names are submitted to council.
At a meeting scheduled for June 28, council will get a chance to not only hear from members of the public on the interested candidates, but from the candidates themselves, who will be allowed a brief time period to address council.
Following that, the swearing in of the selected candidate will occur on June 29.