Despite the political disruptions that have taken place in Sayward, a special emergency response team has been appointed to tackle COVID-19 challenges. (Submitted photo )

Subsequent mayors’ resignations leaves Island village with a governance vacuum

Sayward council will confer to elect an interim mayor almost a month after its previous resignations

After three resignations in March, the council members of Sayward will be convening a meeting on April 21 to select an interim acting mayor until a new mayor is elected after the COVID-19 pandemic settles.

On March 19, the acting mayor of Sayward, Joyce Ellis, announced her resignation citing “personal circumstances” and the need to “focus on family and health.”

The mayoralty choices are now down to the three existing councillors of Sayward – Wes Cragg, Bill Ives and Norm Kirschner, if all stand for the position.

This will be the third attempt for the council to select a mayor, said Coun. Cragg.

Ellis’ resignation came a week after the former mayor, John MacDonald, submitted his resignation citing similar reasons of “personal circumstances.”

In a March 13 press release issued by the village, MacDonald said, “ The Village of Sayward is in reasonably good shape having secured funding for the water diversion project and the new water treatment plant. I feel it is now time to move on to enjoying my retirement with my family and friends. I will of course, continue to be an active member of our great little community.”

In the position for 12 years since 2008, MacDonald is the longest-serving mayor of Sayward since its incorporation in 1968.

Those two departures were also followed by the resignation of the Chief Administrative Officer.

While decling to comment on the departures of the former council members, Ives said that for voters who are observing the disruptions, this will provide an impetus to make a “good choice” when the next election is slotted.

While the day-to-day operations of Sayward are overseen by the existing council members, a special emergency team consisting of a ministry-appointed acting corporate officer has also been set up to address COVID-19 related issues.

“The whole village is closed, except the health clinic and the post office, which are also following the laid-out protocols,” said Ives.

Council has ensured that the community has regular updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation.

“The majority of the advisories and information flyers have been mailed to everybody in the village with regular updates,” said Ives. “Everything is absolutely fine at Sayward.”

While indicating that the recent political situation and disruptions in Sayward has contributed to stress, the council has undertaken significant measures to counter the situation when it comes to the pandemic, said Cragg.

“Our emergency response team, along with Shaun Koopman, the protective services coordinator, emergency management, Strathcona Regional District, has addressed the COVID-19 situation in an impressive fashion,” said Cragg.

“In any pandemic, people are always worried about five basic things: health, housing, governance, security and food, and we’ve addressed those issues in informative videos…,” he said.

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