Province dissolves Teulon council, administrator appointed

After the resignations of Teulon deputy mayor Michael Ledarney and councillors Rey Girardin and Danny Hutchinson, the province has appointed an administrator to assume the powers of council with mayor Debbie Kozyra and councilor Barb Mankewich "deemed to be resigned." Left to right: Girardin, Mankewich, Kozyra, Hutchinson, Ledarney. (File Photo: Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times/Postmedia Network)

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After nearly a year of infighting within council for the Town of Teulon, the province has dissolved what was left of it by appointing an administrator to run the town’s affairs.

Benjamin Lyle, a municipal services officer for the province’s Municipal Finance and Advisory Services, has been appointed under an Order of Administration to assume the powers of council in the community. In a letter sent by assistant deputy minister of municipal relations Lesley McFarlane, the province had the authority under The Municipal Act to make the appointment due to a loss of quorum in council. In accordance with the Act, both mayor Debbie Kozyra and councillor Barb Mankewich were “deemed to have resigned from office.” The letter was posted on the Town of Teulon’s website and Facebook page on Oct. 9.

Deputy mayor Michael Ledarney as well as councillors Danny Hutchinson and Rey Girardin resigned en masse from council on Oct. 4, leaving Kozyra and Mankewich as the only two members of council remaining. With three members needed for quorum, council could not hold meetings and therefore, could not pass any motions, resolutions or by-laws. The regular monthly council meeting slated for Oct. 8 was cancelled.

“A council without quorum cannot meet or make decisions on behalf of the municipality. Under The Municipal Act, if a council does not have quorum due to vacancies, the province has the authority to appoint an administrator,” the letter stated.

It also stated that the next course of action, in accordance with the Act, is to hold a by-elections for all seats of council, including the mayor’s. The by-election will take place on Dec. 11 with the nomination deadline on Nov. 5.

“The administrator has been directed to hold a by-election for all of the seats on Teulon’s council as soon as reasonably possible to restore local governance to the Town of Teulon,” the letter said. The date of the by-election has yet to be determined by press time.

The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times reached out to Kozyra and Mankewich for comment, but did not reply by press time.

On Aug. 13, Teulon council voted to strip Kozyra of most of her mayoral duties while still keeping her title. Ledarney, Hutchinson and Girardin all voted for on the motion while  Kozyra and Mankewich voted against it. A day earlier, Kozyra filed a lawsuit against the three councillors, then-CAO Doreen Steg and local resident Shannon Dupont. The lawsuit is still ongoing.

To contact Lyle, he can be reached by phone (204-945-8514) or email (benjamin.lyle@gov.mb.ca).

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