Mississauga doesn’t need a permanent mayor if Crombie steps down


Published May 23, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Former Mississauga mayor will decide any day now if she'll run for Milton MPP seat

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is considering an Ontario Liberal leadership bid but residents may not get to choose a new mayor this term.

After months of speculation, news broke yesterday that Crombie will run and had created a campaign website — BonnieForLeader.ca. She forming an “exploratory committee” to mull a leadership bid for the provincial Liberals.

Crombie has said she won’t resign her role as mayor yet and will pursue the Liberal leadership on her own time — on weekends or evenings. Still, some are concerned her focus will be divided during a critical time as Mississauga is heading for independence from the Region of Peel by 2025.

And Mississauga could be left without a mayor for five or more months. The next provincial election is slated for June 4, 2026. And the next municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 26, 2026.

Running a by-election could be costly. The Toronto by-election to replace Mayor John Tory is expected to cost taxpayers around $13 million.

But council may decide to “rotate” a person in the mayoral position, Crombie told Breakfast Television today (May 23).

Under the province’s Municipal Elections Act, there are a few options when a council position is left vacant.

Normally, council could choose to hold a by-election or appoint a person to fill the role until the next election.

But if the mayoral position becomes vacant after March 31 in a regular election year, the seat may only be filled by appointment.

The vacancy must be filled unless it occurs within 90 days before voting day of a regular election. If the vacancy occurs within 90 days before a regular election, the municipality is not required to fill the vacancy.

A City of Mississauga spokesperson said Crombie may have been referring to the current council procedure whereby a rotating acting mayor is appointed to chair meetings and attend events on her behalf when she is temporarily absent or unavailable.

But if she leaves the position, there is nothing in the legislation that allows councillors to fill a vacant seat on a rotating basis.

If a seat on council becomes vacant, council has 60 days to decide to fill the seat in a by-election or by appointment. The legislation says: “A person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy under section 263 shall hold office for the remainder of the term of the person he or she replaced.”

In recent years, Mississauga has had to fill vacant council seats.

Two by-elections were held in 2011 and 2015 for vacancies in Ward 5 and Ward 4. The cost of the by-elections in 2011 and 2015 were $458,000 and $285,000 respectively and took approximately four months to elect the new member of council.

After Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey suddenly died in 2018, council chose to use the appointment process as it was an election year.

And most recently, after Ward 2 Councillor Karen Ras resigned on Jan. 28, Councillor Pat Mullin was appointed to fill her seat for the remaining eight months of the term.

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