Voters in Ottawa might have been electing a new mayor on Nov. 24, had Larry O’Brien’s trial ended differently.
That O’Brien was found not guilty by Justice Douglas Cunningham makes the point moot, but according to a report prepared by the city clerk’s office in the event of a guilty verdict, council had three options.
A citywide election would have been the most costly at $4.1 million and would have taken at least 105 days to pull off.
According to the Municipal Act, council has 60 days to decide what to do when an elected official vacates their seat. If they took full advantage of that time, an election would have been on Jan. 12.
It usually takes around 15 months to preparation for a regular citywide municipal election.
The cheapest option would have been to continue rotating through the deputy mayor position.
However, in order to conform to the Municipal Act, councillors without special provincial leave would have to vacate their own seat to take the mayor’s seat and then resign from the position within 60 days in order to be reappointed as councillor.
To appoint a new mayor from the general population would have cost around $20,000 to advertise the position in the media. Such a thing has never been done in the city.
There is a precedent for appointing a mayor from a member of city council.
If that happened, the councillor would have to vacate their position. A by-election in only one ward would cost $300,000, according to the report. Council could also appoint a replacement for that ward. As in appointing a new mayor, the only cost associated with that would have been advertising the position.