When Haines Junction’s deputy mayor, Mike Crawshay, returned to town on Monday, he got some surprising news.
His mayor and chief administrative officer had both quit.
“Lucky me,” Crawshay said.
Crawshay is now acting as both the mayor and CAO until replacements can be found.
“Basically the CAO just found it difficult to work with council, and the mayor said, ‘Well, if this guy’s going to quit for those reasons, then me too,’” he said.
“There were inklings that that might happen. I had hoped that he wouldn’t. Basically, when something like this occurs, the Municipal Act kicks in, and here’s what you need to do, and there are no shortcuts,” he said.
The town council will hold meetings this week to pass bylaws to allow a byelection for a new mayor and the hiring of a new CAO, Crawshay said.
The town must give between 30 and 45 days of public notice before it can hold an election, according to the Municipal Act.
“I think Halloween is the earliest day we could hold one, if everything went smoothly. But common sense says we’re not going to hold a byelection on Halloween, so soon after that.”
Yukon’s Department of Community Services has offered to help fill the role of CAO to take some weight off Crawshay’s shoulders until the town hires a new officer.
When Crawshay spoke to the News, he had only been back in town for 18 hours, and was still wrapping his head around everything, he said.
“So far I’ve only spoken to one councillor, but basically that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have a special meeting to talk about what we do next,” he said.
It’s too early to say whether he would consider a run for the mayor’s chair himself, Crawshay said. At this point, the most important thing is to get the process rolling, to get nominations in and arrange an all-candidates forum.
One of the contributing factors for the discord at council is the increasing demands being placed on the town by federal money flowing in.
“We have I don’t know how many millions of dollars of the Build Canada Fund coming in, but the thing that nobody thinks about is that with all that money there are increasing administrative requirements,” said Crawshay.
Even something as simple as hiring a paid attendant at the landfill can cause a problem, he said.
Recycling in the Junction is handled by a volunteer recycling committee, which has run the program for almost a decade and makes most of its money from the sale of recyclables to Raven Recycling.
New regulations for landfills require a paid attendant to keep an eye on the site. When no one is around, it causes expensive problems, Crawshay said.
“Last year one day, somebody went away for lunch, and when they came back there were about 20 205-litre barrels of an unknown substance sitting there. That, unless we can identify it, is toxic waste and has to be handled as such. The bill was about $40,000 to send that out to be processed, and we said, ‘This has to stop.’ So we closed the dump, and it’s now manned by a municipal employee,” Crawshay said.
“That has caused some problems because the non-profit has different hours for when they can have someone there,” he said.
Earlier this month things came to a head and members of the recycling committee also all quit, Crawshay said.
“I’m saddened that they decided to resign. They’ve led the way with recycling for over 10 years, and now that’s something else we have to deal with. Is it time for the municipality to take it over? Maybe,” he said.
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