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Appointment for Prowse in Barrie

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

There will be no byelection in Ward 6, but rather city council will appoint a replacement for Michael Prowse.

There will be no byelection in Ward 6, but rather city council will appoint a replacement for Michael Prowse.

So much for the campaign trail.

Council decided Monday to appoint a new Ward 6 councillor to replace Michael Prowse, who has stepped down to become the city's next chief administrative officer (CAO), effective July 1.

The decision reversed a June 12 choice to hold a byelection.

“I don’t think there is enough time left (before the 2018 city election) to hold a byelection,” said Coun. Barry Ward. “It’s not the end of the world to appoint someone, or a threat to democracy.”

He also mentioned the cost, about $50,000, and the staff time it would take.

The reversal was possible because Coun. Rose Romita, who voted for a byelection last week, voted for an appointment Monday – because she heard from Barrie residents.

“I think we have been elected to do what our residents want us to do,” she said. “They want us to appoint and think we are quite capable (of choosing a good councillor).”

City clerk Dawn McAlpine said council had to make a decision – an appointment or a byelection.

“Council does not have the option of not filling the vacancy,” she said. “It is not an option to leave the seat vacant for the rest of the term.”

But Romita was the only councillor who changed her mind from last week.

“I want to give Ward 6 residents more and not less,” said Coun. Mike McCann, who favours a byelection. “The power … to decide who they want to represent them.”

“It’s less democratic,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman, of the appointment process, “but I don’t think it is less transparent.”

He said the e-mails his office received were roughly five to one in favour of appointment.

Coun. Sergio Morales, who favours a byelection, asked that the person appointed make a declaration that they not run in the next city election. That lost on a 5-5 tie vote.

Morales then asked that the appointee indicate he or she won’t run next time. That also lost.

“The amendment attempted to ensure the appointee doesn't gain incumbency advantage from 10 people (Barrie councillors) in a room, something the other candidates in the 2018 election aren't getting, which would result in an uneven playing field,” Morales said.

“If someone wants to step up to serve their community knowing it's for a short-term stint, then they can. If someone doesn't want to be limited in running in 2018, hold off and run in 2018 and gain the mandate of the residents on an even-playing field.

“I don't know why council rejected this,” he said.

McCann said he didn't like the limitations Morales' motions placed on an appointed councillor.

“Nothing would be worse than if you had a phenomenal, amazing Ward 6 councillor, doing great work and the ward residents loved this guy, or girl, and it would be awkward for them to run again,” he said. “I don't want to put that ceiling on anybody ... on anybody's inspirations to run again.”

Coun. Doug Shipley was thinking along similar lines.

“We're going to, I hope, pick the very best person to represent Ward 6,” he said. “I am not going to pick the very best person ... then tell them 'you're the best person, but you can't run again'. That would make no sense to me whatsoever.”

Councillors also heard that a declaration not to run again had no legal weight, and could not be enforced by the courts. Rather it was to be public pressure not to run again.

There will be an open call for applications from qualified candidates in city newspapers and on the city’s website ( for a minimum of 10 business days.

Candidates would be required to file applications with the city clerk’s office.

During the week of July 3 or July 10, a special, open council meeting would be held to allow presentations from the candidates.

The new Ward 6 councillor would be appointed and take the oath of office that day as well.

The estimated labour and advertising cost of an appointment has been estimated at $2,000.

When the recorded vote was taken Monday, Couns. McCann, Morales, Peter Silveira and Shipley favoured a Ward 6 byelection.

Couns. Arif Khan, Andrew Prince and Bonnie Ainsworth, Romita, Ward, and Mayor Lehman, voted for appointment.

Barrie city council vacancies

Year Decision Months left in term of office

1995 Byelection 28

1997 Appointment 5

2000 Byelection 34

2001 Byelection 28

2006 Appointment 9

2012 Byelection 28

2016 Byelection 37

2017 Appointment 17

Source: City of Barrie

Applications now being accepted

In Ward 6, the successful applicant will serve the remainder of the 2014 - 2018 term of office that ends on Nov. 30, 2018.

Applications and accompanying materials for this position are now being accepted by Legislative & Court Services Department.

To be considered, a candidate must be: a Canadian citizen; at least 18 years of age;

a resident of the City of Barrie, or own or rent property in the City of Barrie (or the spouse of the owner or renter); and not legally prohibited from voting, or from holding municipal office.

Interested applicants must file a Consent to Nominee form plus a Declaration of Qualification and provide identification showing name, signature and qualifying address within the City of Barrie in person by 4:30 p.m. on July 4, 2017 at Legislative & Court Services (1st floor City Hall, 70 Collier Street, Barrie). All forms must be signed before a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits to be valid.

Council will hold a special meeting, on a still to be announced day, to hear from qualified applicants and vote for a candidate to fill the Ward 6 vacancy. This meeting will be open to the public.

Applicants are welcome to submit letters, biographies or related documents in support of their candidacy. All forms and documents submitted by the applicant are a matter of public record.

For more information about the appointment including application forms, visit

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