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Province Grants City Council’s Request To Skip Byelection

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It is official. Dauphin residents will not be heading to the polls to pick a new mayor after the province approved city council’s request to forego the byelection process.

Council passed a resolution not to hold a byelection to fill the vacancy created with the death of Mayor Allen Dowhan due to public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this month.

The move was made possible through provisions under the Emergency Measures Act providing for a temporary suspension of local election provisions. A certified copy of the resolution was forwarded to the Department of Municipal Relations for approval by the minister.

“Considering cases are still quite high across the province we’re thankful the province has approved this request. especially since they said we were entering the fourth wave,” deputy-mayor Christian Laughland said. “It just makes sense to keep our community safe.”

City manager Sharla Griffiths said her preliminary enquiries with Municipal Relations left her with the impression that council’s request would be supported by the province.

“They said unless you have a really unusual circumstance like a majority of your council quits,” she said, adding that is obviously not the case in this instance. “There was nothing unusual in our application that would make them go ‘you can’t not have a byelection.’”

Given the province’s current position on public health and the possibility of a fourth wave, Griffiths said it was unlikely the province would force the city to hold a vote, but you never know.

“The decision mirrors all of the things that the province was doing with respect to government public health rules,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine them not approving that request, however, until you actually see it, we really couldn’t go forward.”

Dauphinites will have the opportunity to choose a new mayor during the next general election in October 2022. Until then City business will be continue under the guidance of the six remaining members of council.