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How the replacement for Pam McConnell's seat will be chosen

The new councillor will have to address development along the waterfront and in Regent Park, ongoing issues at Toronto Island, and much more.

Former Toronto city councillor and mayoral candidate David Soknacki speaks to council.

Contributed Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Former Toronto city councillor and mayoral candidate David Soknacki speaks to council.

With Pam McConnell's passing last week, Toronto's east downtown will need a new councillor to fill her big shoes and tackle the many ongoing issues in Ward 28.

The new councillor will have to address ongoing issues at Toronto Island, development along the waterfront and in Regent Park, and advocate for the shelter and social housing needs in the area.

Here's how the next councillor will likely be chosen:

1. Council must first declare the seat vacant. They can do so at one of the two next council meetings, but because of the summer break those don't occur until October and November. In the meantime, McConnell's staff will run the office as usual and respond to constituent needs.

2. Within 60 days of declaring a seat vacant, council must choose whether to appoint an interim councillor or hold a by-election. In part because next year is an election year and also because it costs $175,000–$225,000 to hold a by-election, council is very likely choose to appoint an interim councillor.

3. Potential appointees must meet certain criteria: they must be 18 or older, a Canadian citizen, a resident of Toronto, own or rent property in the city and be eligible to vote and hold office. To sign up, candidates must show proof of residence and sign documents in person at city hall.

4. If it's the same as the process last month, where council appointed Jim Hart to replace the late Ron Moeser, candidates get three weeks to sign up for consideration. At a special meeting of council each candidate–and dozens may sign up–can make a five minute speech to make their case to council to select them. Council votes until one candidate receives a majority. If there's a tie–and this is how Fred Beavis briefly became mayor in 1978–then council chooses the winner from a hat.

5. While any resident of Toronto can apply, some people are more likely candidates than others. Council generally insists that the appointed candidate promises not to run in the next election, to avoid giving them an unfair advantage. Some councillors have previously said they want the appointee to be a resident of the ward, although 13 of council's 43 current councillors do not live in their ward. And because the mayor effectively controls a majority of votes on council, his preference carries a lot of weight.

6. Not all of the decisions happen in public. In the appointment process last month the leading candidates met privately with councillors in advance of the vote to make their case This informal stage is very important; a lot of the decisions get made in advance of the public speeches.

7. The appointed councillor gets sworn in at the next council meeting. Unless a special meeting is held to expedite the process, which is unlikely, then the Ward 28 councillor will take office in late 2017 or early 2018.

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