Municipal Hall could schedule a by-election for the fall, likely September, to fill the seat left vacant by the death of long-time councillor Vic Derman in March.

UPDATED: Saanich looking at municipal by-election in the fall, likely September

Saanich could be heading to the polls in September to fill the council seat left vacant since the death of Vic Derman.

Chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson pointed towards that possibility Monday after receiving a question from council.

“The challenge that we face currently is that if we were to rush into appointing an chief election officer under statutory requirements for elections, we would fall on an early date in August,” said Thorkelsson. “Our recommendation to council is that a mid-summer [election] is not the most appropriate time to be holding a by-election. As a result, I would advise council that we are looking at September.”

A September date would allow Saanich residents to get through the summer vacation period, he said.

The final date will ultimately depend on when council appoints a chief election officer, Thorkelsson said.

Under the Municipal Act, Saanich must fill Derman’s seat, since it became vacation before Jan. 1, 2018. After that date, council could have carried on with eight members until the municipal election in November 2018.

Once Saanich has appointed a chief election officer for the by-election, this person must set a general voting day for the election, which must be on a Saturday no later than 80 days after the date of the chief election officer’s appointment, under statutory requirements.

First elected to council in 2002, Derman died in office on March 17 at the age of 72.

The question of who would run to replace Derman has been a subject of considerable speculation and one would be candidate — Natalie Chambers — has already declared her candidacy.

Chambers, a long-time resident and organic farmer, who has worked with several provincial and local organizations over the course of career, announced last month that she would run.

“I am stepping up to defend [Derman’s] legacy of environment and sustainability,” Chambers said. “Really, and truly, my apolitical husband and I are shaking in our boots as we know what lies ahead.”

Several facts about what lies ahead remain uncertain, starting with the actual cost of the by-election.

“As there is still some planning work to be done, we do not have a cost figure at this time,” said Tara Zajac, a spokesperson for the District. “However, we established funding of $173,500 in the financial plan for the 2017 by-election.”

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