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Tonight’s the night West Nipissing council could become whole

Six residents are vying for the empty seat, and at 6:00 they can explain why
West Nipissing town hall~ photo Municipality of West Nipissing
West Nipissing council will interview six candidates tonight for the long-vacant Ward 7 seat / File photo by Jeff Turl

West Nipissing council is having a special meeting tonight to interview applicants interested in filling the Ward 7 seat representing Verner. There are six candidates in the running, and soon after the meeting starts at 6:00, council members will begin questioning them.

The meeting will be held at the at the municipality’s council chambers at 101-225 Holditch Street in Sturgeon Falls. For those who cannot attend, it will be live streamed on the municipality’s YouTube channel.

Nigel Bellchamber was recently appointed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to help facilitate the appointment of a new council member. Come July, it will be two years that chair has sat empty, and the Ministry stepped in to ensure it was filled by June 30th.

See: Municipal Affairs is making sure Verner has a seat at council

To help this evening’s proceeding run smoothly, Bellchamber sent a letter to Mayor Joanne Savage and council members, suggesting candidate “interviews be approximately 15 minutes in length” for each person, and the candidates will be “questioned in random order.”

Bellchamber will select that order, “so that no one is seen as automatically being given a positional advantage.”

He plans to provide the questions to the six candidates at the start of the meeting “immediately after council adopts this procedure as presented or with amendments.”

Melissa Cyr, Jamie Restoule, and Normand Roberge are all in the running. So too are Larry Morin, Fernand Pellerin, and Christine Riberdy.

“It is important that each candidate be treated in a way that minimizes advantages or disadvantages in the process,” Bellchamber emphasized.

After the interviews, council “can decide to proceed with discussion of candidates” afterward, Bellchamber explained, “or defer that discussion until a subsequent meeting.” Once council decides, a by-law must be passed naming a specific individual to the council position.

If there is a stalemate over the decision, “I will speak to each member of council individually,” Bellchamber said “to find a possible solution” that complies with the Municipal Act before June 30th. Bellchamber will also keep Minister Steve Clark, of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, apprised of the situation.

Update: The West Nipissing council meeting adjourned at 8:54 p.m. Council members voted to postpone their final decision regarding who will become the newest municipal councillor until June 15, at which time they will conduct a special meeting. The six candidates who appeared before council tonight are all still in the running.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs

About the Author: David Briggs

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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