By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
With the passing of regional chair and CEO Roger Anderson, Durham of Region council is facing some big decisions.
Under regulations of the Ontario Municipal Act, council must pass a motion declaring Anderson’s office vacant at either the April 4 committee of the whole or April 11 regular council meeting.
After declaring the vacancy, the onus is on council to decide how to fill the position of regional chair.
The first option is to call for a by-election.
According to a staff report in the April 4 agenda, if council chooses the by-election process, it would be on a region-wide basis and would be administered by the clerks of the eight local municipalities, not the regional clerk.
Each individual municipality would bear costs through this process.
The staff report didn’t include any cost estimates.
“Estimates for a by-election would require further research and discussion with the area clerks to provide a more detailed cost estimate,” the report states.
With the impending municipal election in November, staff note preparing for a by-election would pose “significant challenges”.
The second option would be to appoint a replacement using one of two methods, either direct appointment or by soliciting applications.
A direct appointment could include a current member of regional council, but that member would vacate their local seat.
Should council recommend the application process, the regional clerk would install a procedure to accept applications.
Staff note with less than a year in the current council term, “it may be prudent to appoint a current member of regional council who would have the experience and knowledge necessary to fill this role and be familiar with issues facing the region, without requiring a lengthy orientation and to provide immediate stability and continuity.”
With that said, the staff report also states, “there could also be potential advantages to soliciting interested and qualified individuals for appointment, including finding someone who is engaged and has the experience required to fill the position, and whose appointment would not result in a vacancy on a lower-tier council.”
If council chooses to accept applications for the position, selection of a candidate would take place at a special meeting.
The region has 60 days from the vacancy declaration to either appoint a replacement or call for a by-election.
Before his death, Anderson had not attended any meetings in 2018, and in his absence, acting chairs served on a rotational basis.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan was acting chair in January and February, and Scugog Mayor Tom Rowett chaired meetings in March.
The next regional chair will inherit Anderson’s seat on other boards and committees as well.
Anderson was also the chair of the Durham Police Services Board.
The next regional chair or another regional councillor will replace him, depending on the ultimate decision of council.