Spruce Grove byelection called for July 10

Councillor needed to replace new MLA Searle Turton

Spruce Grove is all set to go to the polls on July 10.

Council has approved plans for the municipal byelection, which will feature three advance polls between June 25 and July 6.

Spruce Grove is currently one councillor short, following Searle Turton's resignation upon his election as the region's new MLA.

At last night's meeting, councillors expressed concern over the byelection's cost potentially exceeding $100,000, and specifically asked about doing without electronic vote tabulators, which account for about $26,000 of that.

City Clerk Tania Shepherd told council that the city's elections bylaw doesn't currently spell out a clear enough alternative to the tabulators.

Mayor Stuart Houston says if a change is made to that bylaw, it won't be before the byelection.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to make amendments to that, but because of the timing of the current election dates we're not able to look at that," he said.

"We're going to look at some of the wording in the current bylaw to see if there's some interpretation or factors where we can potentially look at maybe even being able to achieve (a method without tabulators). So we're still going to wait for some more information to come back to us on that."

There's also $8500 set aside for team building and training for council, once the new member joins.

Houston says joining council halfway through the term will be a unique challenge.

"It's like drinking from a fire hose - there's a lot of information to cover off on. And there's a dynamic team that's been in place and working together very well for two years," he said.

"We want that person to come on board and have the ability to blend in and understand a lot of the work that we've done, and how we're going to try and achieve some of the visions that we've set out in our long term capital plans and our budgeting."

Byelections aren't an expense that can be scheduled in advance, so the money will be funded from the city's surplus that's carried from year to year.

The province's Municipal Government Act says the city has to fill the vacancy within 90 days, which set the deadline for July 22.

Nominations are now being accepted, with official Nomination Day set for May 29.

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