City council will likely wait until the October municipal election to replace the South Centre ward seat left vacant by Garth Rice, according to city clerk Con Arvisais.
Arvisais said if a vacancy occurs within 12 months prior to an election, council has the choice to fill the position or not. April 22 will be the six-month mark leading up to the Oct. 22 election.
"It’s not cheap to conduct a byelection, it’s about $13,000," Arvisais said. "And by the time we get everything in place, it could be June."
Council will decide at the April 7 meeting whether to hold a byelection.
Rice announced his resignation from council this week, after 12 years representing the ward.
"It truly was an honour to serve with the mayors I served with, all the councillors I served with," Rice said. "We don’t necessarily see eye to eye, and … that’s a good thing because we all shouldn’t think the same. And I appreciate what every one of them had to offer even though I sometimes disagreed with them."
Rice was first elected to council in 2002 and was re-elected by a slim margin in 2006. He was acclaimed in 2010.
"It was fantastic. I met a lot of really good people," he said. "You find the people that have the best intentions and they come to that table with the best of intentions."
Rice will not be venturing too far from city hall. He has accepted a position as equipment operator with the city’s sewer and water department.
Rice has been working in the construction industry for more than 30 years, formerly with C&C Construction, and most recently worked in the oilfield.
The city has been in need of an equipment operator, as the department has had several retirements and people leaving to work in the Bakken oilfields for significantly more money.
Rice said leaving council was a hard decision to make, but felt it would be a good move.
"It’s walking distance from my house to work, so there’s a quality of life thing here," he said. "We’re empty-nesters now so I’m at a point in my life where I can make decisions for the good of me and the wife, rather than, ‘I’ve got to do this for my family’… they’re all off and taken care of."
The tough part, Rice said, was having to resign from council, as he can’t be both a trustee and an employee of the corporation.
"But you know ... I served 12 years with a lot of great people around that table, and I have no regrets," he said.
Following his announcement, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst thanked Rice for his service and said his leadership has been "an inspiration."
Arvisais said Rice has been a "very dedicated" councillor.
"Very concerned about his ward residents and very concerned with the decorum and procedural requirements of council," Arvisais said.
In the absence of a councillor, South Centre ward residents can contact city manager Scott Hildebrand with any concerns or issues at 204-729-2204.
As for Rice’s committee and board commitments, other councillors will be asked to fill those obligations, which will also be addressed at the April 7 meeting.