In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid rate at which the situation is changing, City Clerk Valerie Critchley has declared an emergency under section 53 of the Municipal Elections Act, thereby postponing the Ward 7 by-election that was scheduled to take place on April 27, 2020. It should be noted, this is not an emergency declaration for the municipality under The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Section 53 of the Municipal Elections Act grants the City Clerk the authority to declare an emergency if she is of the opinion that circumstances have arisen that are likely to prevent the election from being conducted in accordance with the legislative requirements of the Act. Under section 53, the City Clerk will declare when the emergency has ended, and arrangements will be made to continue with the Ward 7 by-election at that time.
This decision was made after consultation with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and City Legal Counsel, taking into account the health and safety of residents, voters in Ward 7, candidates and election workers. The uncertain availability of polling locations (e.g. community centres, churches, long-term care homes), election supplies, other resources, and the overall movement towards social distancing all contributed to the decision to postpone the by-election.
In an effort to optimize voter turnout and the campaign efforts already put forth by the Ward 7 by-election candidates, the campaign period will remain open during this emergency period. Additional campaign time will be allotted in the revised by-election timelines once the City Clerk declares the emergency has ended.
As the nomination period ended on Friday, March 13, there will be no consideration given to new candidates in the revised by-election timelines.
As the pandemic situations is ever evolving, new dates for voting day and advanced voting days are yet to be determined.