Watson Lake’s next mayor says he’s excited to soon take on the role.
Chris Irvin, who’s been a councillor for five years and has been serving most recently as deputy mayor, was elected as the southern Yukon town’s mayor in a byelection Oct. 8.
According to unofficial results, Irvin won with 154 votes compared to 92 for Gerry Bruce, 62 for Brenda Leach and 49 for Justin Brown.
“It was very exciting,” Irvin said of the byelection in an Oct. 13 interview, describing Oct. 8 as a “nerve-wracking day”.
“To have the support is great.”
Irvin, who was born and raised in Watson Lake and owns the Tags and Super A stores in town, said the community has a good strategic plan that is guiding council’s direction moving forward.
The plan, he explained, has a large economic focus with initiatives aimed at revitalization for the town.
There’s also implementation of the asset management plan and bylaws to work on including getting an updated zoning bylaw in place.
While he’s been working on those matters as a member of council, Irvin said as the town’s mayor he expects to work more closely with Watson Lake chief administrative officer Cam Lockwood on those efforts.
Efforts to work with the Liard First Nation will also continue, he said.
As Irvin gets set to formally move into the role of mayor, it’s not clear whether the councillor position left open with Irvin’s departure will require a byelection.
The territory’s Municipal Act states that if there’s a vacancy on a municipal council after Feb. 1 in an election year, the council may leave the seat vacant until the general election. The next general municipal election for the territory is in November 2021.
In an Oct. 9 email, Lockwood said town officials are working with Yukon government to determine if another byelection will be required “…. being it would put additional financial strain on the municipality for the short period that the position would be held for”.
If it’s determined a byelection is required, the Municipal Act states the nomination period must occur 30 to 45 days from when the vacancy occurs.
The mayor’s seat became vacant in August when former mayor Cheryl O’Brien resigned after she was charged with fraud over $5,000 and forgery.
Court documents allege O’Brien defrauded the Watson Lake Riding Association and made out cheques to herself “to the prejudice” of the association.
The matter has not yet been heard in court.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org