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Still no decision on how to fill two city council vacancies

During tonight’s meeting, Greater Sudbury city council declared Ward 2 and Ward 3 vacant, setting in motion the legislative process to refill them either by appointments or byelections
Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini and Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier have both died in recent weeks, leaving their respective seats on Greater Sudbury city council vacant. City council has been left legislatively bound to fill these vacancies.

Tonight’s city council meeting did not clarify how the City of Greater Sudbury will fill the vacancies in Ward 2 and Ward 3, but the city’s elected officials did declare them vacant.

Filling the two vacant seats was a sometimes trying topic for city council members to discuss, with Mayor Paul Lefebvre introducing the situation as “difficult,” but one they must talk about.

“We have legislative requirements that we need to respect,” he said. “That is our duty called upon us by councillors and mayor to make sure these seats are filled.”

After being reported missing a few weeks earlier, Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini was located dead on Feb. 13. 

Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier died at Health Sciences North on Feb. 21.

Though Greater Sudbury city council could have put off declaring the two seats vacant until their next meeting, tentatively set for March 19, they voted to proceed with the declaration tonight.

Just before the vote to declare the two seats vacant, Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent referred to the loss of two city council members as “unprecedented,” and that although decision points to move forward without them are “unenviable,” leaving residents without city council representation is also challenging.

During tonight’s meeting, staff provided additional insight regarding a report about filling the vacancies, which city solicitor and clerk Eric Labelle tabled last week for the meeting.

The estimated cost to host a byelection is approximately $500,000 to $600,000, and from Labelle’s cursory research, voter turnout during byelections is usually roughly half that of general elections.

In the 2022 civic election, voter turnout was 45 per cent in Ward 2 and 41 per cent in Ward 3, and it hit 42 per cent city-wide.

City Financial Planning and Budgeting manager Liisa Lenz told city council there’s approximately $1.2 million in the city’s elections reserve to cover the cost of a byelection.

City council can also opt to appoint members to the two wards.

This is the approach the 2014 incarnation of city council chose when Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli died and Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino resigned

At the time, the city advertised the positions publicly and voted in members at a special city council meeting, the same as they elect members to various boards and committees.

Within 60 days of tonight’s meeting, city council members must either appoint people to fill these vacancies or pass a bylaw requiring a byelection to be held to fill the vacancies.

This would bring a decision point to anytime between now and April 27.

The byelection would be held no later than Aug. 22.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of city council is March 19, though a media release issued by the city tonight notes that a special meeting to determine the next steps will be held “in the coming weeks.”

A funeral service was held for Montpellier on Feb. 24.

Family and friends are invited to Vagnini's funeral service which will be held on Saturday, March 2, at 11 a.m. at St. Pius X Parish in Lively.

A celebration of Vagnini’s life will be held in the upper hall of the Walden Arena (325 Anderson Dr., Lively) on Saturday, March 23, at 2 p.m.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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