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City council faces ‘lame duck’ scenario

The 'restricted acts period' limiting council decision making runs Aug. 19 to Nov. 15
20201026 Guelph Council Chambers RV
Guelph city council chambers. Richard Vivian/GuelphToday file photo

With at least four sitting city councillors planning not to seek re-election this fall, Guelph council will find itself in a so-called ‘lame duck’ situation, which places limits on its decision-making ability, to finish off the term.

Officially known as a restricted acts period under the Ontario Municipal Act, lame duck council’s aren’t allowed to sell or otherwise dispose of municipal property with a value of $50,000 or more, or approve un-budgeted expenditures of the same value.

During its May 30 meeting, council unanimously approved a motion giving CAO Scott Stewart authority to handle those matters if a lame duck situation arises, which now appears imminent, meaning less than 75 per cent of incumbents are seeking re-election. 

The lame duck period begins at the nomination deadline of Aug. 19 and ends when the next council is affirmed on Nov. 15.

A reduced meeting schedule will still see other matters dealt with by council during the lame duck period, confirmed city clerk Stephen O’Brien.

Four sitting councillors have declared their intention not to seek re-election – Bob Bell, Mike Salisbury, James Gordon and June Hofland – and others may follow suit.

At this point, the only incumbents to formally register for the Oct. 24 election are: Cam Guthrie (mayor), Rodrigo Goller (Ward 2), Dominique O’Rourke (Ward 6) and Mark MacKinnon (Ward 6).

Councillors Phil Allt (Ward 3), Leanne Caron (Ward 5) and Cathy Downer (Ward 5) each told GuelphToday on Monday they plan to throw their hat into the ring ahead of the Aug. 19 deadline. Coun. Christine Billings of Ward 4 couldn't be reached for comment.

During lame duck periods municipal councils are also not allowed to appoint or remove any officer of the municipality, nor hire or fire city employees, but Guelph council previously delegated authority over those matters to staff.


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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