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Here’s why Newmarket council stands to dodge 'lame duck' status

Council can keep all decision-making powers till election day with all members running again
CPC duck photo
Stock photo

Municipal elections are drawing closer, but Newmarket council is set to continue decision-making unabated by the threat of the “lame duck.”

Newmarket council will avoid “lame duck” status until at least election day because all current council members have declared their intent to run again. That effectively avoids a lame-duck situation until at least the Oct. 24 election day, meaning council faces no legislated decision-making restrictions until then.

Lame-duck provisions kick in if a municipality confirms that less than 75 per cent of council members are returning. With a nine-member council, that means the provision would have triggered by the end of the Aug. 19 nomination period if three or more members were not running. 

But almost every incumbent council member has filed their nomination papers to run, according to the municipal election website. The only exception is Newmarket Mayor John Taylor, who has previously said he intends to run again.

The provincially legislated provision limits actions taken by a council on its way out. Rules prohibit lame-duck councils from appointing or removing any officer in the municipality, hiring or dismissing employees, disposing of any municipal property more than $50,000 and making any expenditures or incurring any other liability exceeding $50,000.

Council also has a delegation bylaw to delegate authority to staff in case of a lame-duck period. A report on the 2022 meeting schedule indicates that such authority would not be used to advance any politically sensitive matters.

“With the previously approved delegated authority to staff, the lame-duck impact may be minimal,” legislative coordinator Jaclyn Grossi wrote in an August 2021 report.

Budgeted items and planning matters can also continue to go ahead, regardless of lame-duck status. 

With the re-election plans, council can operate normally until at least election day, Oct. 23. A three-week lame-duck period could occur if three or more members are not re-elected. Only two council positions have multiple candidates as of July 7: Ward 2, with incumbent Victor Woodhouse, and Ward 4, with incumbent Trevor Morrison. 

However, council is currently on a summer break, with one special meeting July 11 and then none till August. Council also has no scheduled meetings for October, when the election will be in full swing. The current term of council ends Nov. 15, with a meeting scheduled for Nov. 2 that will recognize members of the 2018-22 term.

Newmarket’s various boards and committees will still be running, though will have a reduced schedule between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

Agendas for the remaining meetings of the council term have not yet been published, but the town has been pushing back several items until after the election, including a downtown pedestrianization pilot and a review of its active transportation plan

The municipal voting period will run Oct. 15 to 24. You can find more information at

-With files from Jessica Owen