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Northern community reacts after mayor and council booted by the province

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Black River-Matheson no longer has a sitting town council, after it failed to meet for more than 60 days due to lack of attendance.

The province disbanded council yesterday and the town will now have to hold a new election.

Town hall has had an empty council chamber since January — and now it will stay that way until residents elect a new mayor and six new councillors.

A coalition of three now-former councillors forced the move by boycotting meetings, saying it was either this or living with a “broken” council.

“We couldn’t get results, we couldn’t get proper guidance from our staff,” said former councillor Dave Dyment.

“Mismatched information out of our reports and untimely reports. We just felt that we weren’t running the town and that the town was actually running us.”

This comes after high tensions in the community over a 34 per cent tax increase, the ongoing municipal worker strike and three councillors resigning in the last year.

Black River-Matheson no longer has a sitting town council, after it failed to meet for more than 60 days due to lack of attendance. (Photo from video)

Former Mayor Doug Bender was not available for comment, but the vacant council chamber comes with mixed reactions.

“I do not believe that they ran for (office) to end up here, I really don’t,” said Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof.

“And so we have to look deeper to see why, why they ended up here.”

Vanthof said while he’s seen unrest within councils before, he hasn’t seen Matheson’s level of public bitterness.

Byelection will be held

Now without a mayor, Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, will appoint someone to take over council duties for the time being.

“An appointee will be in place until the byelection is complete and a new council is in place,” Calandra wrote in a letter.

“The appointee will exercise the duties and obligations of council in an accountable and transparent manner.”

No word on when the byelection will take place, but Dyment is hoping more people will run than last time, when everyone but himself ran unopposed.

“That way, we’re getting a broader spectrum of people to choose from,” he said.

“Difference of views from different councillors, so we’re not falling into the exact same position.”

Dyment said the new council’s priorities will have to start with transparency, positivity and solving the town’s immediate issues.

And he said he would like to be part of that council -- as the community’s next mayor.

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