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To host byelections or appoint members? Sudbury council to decide

Following the recent deaths of two city council members, the city’s elected officials must soon decide whether to appoint new member to Ward 2 and Ward 3 or hold byelections

It has been a tragic month for Greater Sudbury city council.

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.

While tributes pour in for both men, the question of who will fill their seats must also come up. Work at the City of Greater Sudbury continues, with decisions affecting residents of Ward 2 and Ward 3 being made all the time.

In an addendum to the Feb. 27 city council meeting, a report has been tabled by city solicitor and clerk Eric Labelle on how these vacancies might be filled.

Following legislation laid out in the provincial Municipal Act and Municipal Elections Act, the city’s elected officials must declare both Ward 2 and Ward 3 vacant at one of their next two city council meetings.

The Feb. 27 meeting is the first of the two, meaning city council will have the option of deferring a decision to their subsequent meeting, tentatively slated for March 19.

Within 60 days of this declaration, city council must do one of two things:

  • Appoint a person to fill the vacancy
  • Pass a bylaw requiring a byelection to be held to fill the vacancies

If a vacancy occurs within 90 days before a regular election, the municipality is not required to fill it. If a vacancy occurs after March 31 of a regular election year, a byelection cannot be held. 

Since the next municipal election isn’t until Oct. 26, 2026, this would not apply. As such, city council members will have both options at their disposal.

Those appointed or elected to fill a vacancy will be required to hold office for the remainder of the term of the person they replace.

As laid out in Labelle’s report, city council can opt to:

  • Appoint a candidate from the 2022 election. This might be the quickest option, as both Vagnini and Montpellier only had one political opponent each, with Eric Benoit also seeking election in Ward 2 and Michel Guy Brabant seeking Ward 3.
  • Appoint a candidate after hosting an application process. This was the option city council used to fill two vacancies which came up in 2014.
  • Hold a byelection.

Labelle’s report notes that, following an assumed timeline following provincial legislation, a byelection could be completed no later than Aug. 22. The total cost for a byelection involving a single city council vacancy is approximately $388,000.

Although it’ll be up to city council to decide whether they appoint new colleagues or host a byelection, recent history has forced their hand to appoint members.

In 2014, two City of Greater Sudbury wards became vacant when Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli died and Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino resigned when he was elected as Sudbury MPP (a role he held for a few months before resigning from that position, also).

The city’s elected officials appointed Gerry McIntaggart to Ward 1, and Al Sizer to Ward 8.  In both cases, byelections were out of the question because the wards became vacant after March 31, and it was an election year. looked into how the Ward 8 appointment was made in 2014, and what the timeline of events was. This way, if city council opts to appoint members to Ward 2 and Ward 3 this time around, there’d be a clearer understanding of what might take place.

Belli died on April 12, and city council declared his seat vacant two city council meetings later, on May 13. 

During that meeting, they voted to appoint a new member of city council.

During the week of May 19-23, the city advertised the opportunity to serve on council, and reached out to candidates from the 2010 election.

The deadline to submit documents and confirm interest was June 13, and a nominating committee meeting was held on June 25, at which city council members selected Sizer over 12 other candidates vying to lead Ward 8.

Although city council chose to host a public application process in 2014, Sizer also happened to be the runner-up candidate in the previous municipal election.

The Feb. 27 city council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., and can be viewed in-person at Tom Davies Square or livestreamed by clicking here.

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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