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Decision on Cumberland ward council seat to be deferred until after coronavirus pandemic

Ottawa city council has deferred its decision on Cumberland ward's vacant seat. Beatrice Britneff / Global News File

The vacant Ottawa council seat in Cumberland ward will remain empty through the remainder of the coronavirus pandemic, city council decided in a virtual meeting Wednesday.

Cumberland ward has been without an elected representative since former councillor Stephen Blais resigned from the post in March following his victory in an Orléans provincial byelection to service as an MPP with the Liberal Party of Ontario.

The city was planning to hold a byelection for a new councillor in the ward on June 8, but the COVID-19 pandemic and Ottawa’s associated state of emergency have disrupted those plans.

READ MORE: Stephen Blais resigns from Ottawa city council following Ontario byelection victory

Council opted Wednesday to defer its decision on how to best fill the Cumberland ward seat until a point when the city would have more clarity on how long the pandemic will last.

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Council will have to make a decision on whether to call a new byelection or make an appointment to the Cumberland seat no later than 30 days after the province lifts its emergency declaration.

In the meantime, councillors Matthew Luloff, George Darouze and Laura Dudas will continue to split duties in Cumberland ward and provide residents with a voice at council.

The ward office remains open to residents with questions about city services and other concerns during the pandemic.