Council business has ground to a halt now that three positions are open for the upcoming Warfield byelection, slated Feb. 25.
There is no quorum, the five-member council is down to only two councillors, which means there are not enough politicians at the table to make a council meeting valid or enough council members to vote on respective municipal decisions.
And this may not change for at least a few more weeks.
“We do not have a quorum,” confirmed Warfield Corporate Officer Jackie Patridge. “We cannot hold regular council meetings, pass resolutions or vote on bylaws.”
Patridge has sent a letter to the province’s Minister Peter Fassbender (from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development) to request an order.
Following Section 129(3)(a) of the Local Government Act, the minister can order that the remaining members of the council constitute a quorum until persons are elected and take office to fill the vacancies.
“I informed the ministry in December that this would happen,” Patridge clarified. “And I have had several conversations with an advisor from the ministry on this issue.”
Patridge says it may take up to two weeks for the province to process Warfield’s request, which is essentially, that two councillors form an interim quorum.
“In the meantime, our two councillors will continue having regular meetings to deal with any ‘housekeeping issues’ that come up,” she added. “If any emergency occurs, I will contact the ministry immediately.”
Councillor Arlene Parkinson is currently acting as Deputy Mayor.
Former Mayor Ted Pahl formally left his position on Dec. 31 to pursue employment on the East Coast. Since then, Coun. Diane Langman and Coun. Brett Rakuson resigned from their seats to pursue the mayoral post.
That leaves Parkinson at the helm and Coun. Shane Ferraro at the table. Notably, Ferraro is the last of the Warfield officials still serving the role he was elected to in November of 2014. Parkinson won last year’s byelection following the resignation of former council member Tom Milne.
Since appointing Patridge as Chief Election Officer on Dec. 16, the byelection schedule is firmly in place – nominations for Warfield mayor and the two councillor seats opens on Tuesday (Jan. 10) and closes Friday, Jan. 20, at 4 p.m.
Patridge confirmed with the Trail Times on Dec. 20 that general voting day is Feb. 25 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the village hall on Schofield Highway. Voters will have two additional opportunities to cast a ballot during advance polls on Feb. 15 and Feb. 22.
The Trail Times reached out to Brett Rakuson and Diane Langman this week to ask why the councillors chose to resign from their councillor seats and run for mayor instead.
“I am pleased to confirm that I have resigned as a councillor in order to run for mayor of the Village of Warfield in the upcoming byelection,” said Rakuson.
“With this byelection there is an opportunity to make teamwork a priority and reconnect with our citizens as a direction for council,” he added. “Being part of an elected council can be fulfilling and rewarding, but only if everyone is included and respected. I have previously held a council position from 1996 to 1999, re-elected as a councillor in 2014 and have been the Acting Mayor for the past year.”
Langman says she is excited about pursuing the mayoral role.
“There are several reasons I am running for mayor,” she said.
“Firstly, I want to continue building on the transparency and openness we have established with our residents. Second, investing and strengthening relationships with our neighbouring communities is a priority of mine,” she shared.
“Over the past two years, we have really started to function well as a region and I would like to continue to build on this. Thirdly, Council has made significant gains on the infrastructure issues in the village. As Mayor, I would like to continue with progressive infrastructure management as we have some huge infrastructure issues coming down the line.”
Patridge reminds the Warfield community that nominations packages can be picked up at the village office starting Jan. 9 with the nomination period opening the following day and running until Jan. 20.
A person is qualified to be nominated, elected, and to hold office as a member of local government if they are a Canadian citizen and meet the criteria of being 18 years of age or older on the Feb. 25 general voting day Saturday, a resident of British Columbia for at least six months immediately before the day nomination papers are filed, and not disqualified, under the Local