Singh v Corporation of the City of Brampton

On July 11, 2022 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice made a decision regarding the City of Brampton’s filling of a vacancy on Council which may be of interest to other municipalities. The key issue on the application is whether the Resolution and By-law to fill the vacancy comply with the requirements under the Municipal Act for filling a vacancy on Council.

A member of Brampton’s Council, Councillor Charmaine Williams, announced that she was running as a candidate in the June 2, 2022 provincial election.  On May 31, 2022 at a Special Meeting of Brampton Council, contrary to the advice of the City Solicitor and City Clerk, Council appointed a former city and regional councillor, Elaine Moore, should Councillor Williams win her seat, and her position on Council become vacant. This was done through a Resolution and a By-law confirming the proceedings of the meeting.

Section 262(1) of the Municipal Act states that council must declare the office of a member of council vacant “at its next meeting” after a vacancy arises. Section 263 prescribes the mandatory requirements for filling the vacancy.

Justice Michael Doi ruled that Section 262 and 263 of the Municipal Act make it clear that Council can only appoint a person to fill a vacant office after the vacancy has been declared at its next meeting after the vacancy occurred, and that by passing the Resolution and By-law on May 31, 2022 to appoint Elaine Moore, “Council did not comply with clear statutory requirements for filling the vacancy and acted with a total absence of jurisdiction”.

Furthermore, Justice Doi ruled that the legislation effectively excludes a departing Council member from the decision-making process for filling the vacancy caused by their departure. By holding the meeting on May 31, 2022 to conditionally appoint Elaine Moore, Councillor Williams participated in the process for appointing her successor.

Justice Doi ruled that the Resolution to appoint Elaine Moore to fill the anticipated vacancy and the By-law confirming the proceedings of Council for the City of Brampton at the Special Meeting of Council on May 31, 2022 by quashed. The Respondent was also ordered to pay the Applicant for the Application fixed at $20,000.

The full case can be read here: Singh v. Corporation of the City of Brampton