By Steve Hubrecht

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Invermere is short a councillor, and will hold a byelection first thing in the new year.

New councillor Mark Topliff had not even had a chance to sit in his first council meeting before he stepped down, citing personal reasons.

Topliff is well-known throughout Invermere as the district’s bylaw officer. He and all other councillor candidates were acclaimed to their positions in October’s municipal election because there were only four candidates running for four positions. The election was held on Saturday, Oct. 15, and the new Invermere council was inaugurated last week, on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Topliff, however, wasn’t at the meeting, and Invermere mayor Al Miller explained to the gallery that Topliff had chosen to step down and had informed district staff and fellow council members the week prior.

Topliff confirmed the decision to the Pioneer the day after the meeting.

“He (Topliff) was certainly very sorry, but he was clear that he just can’t do it, for personal reasons. As a council, we support that, and we wish him well,” Miller told the Pioneer during a break in the meeting. “We are just making this public, now, tonight. We will go to by election in January and hopefully we will have success in attracting another good councillor for our term.”

Is Miller concerned that nobody will come forward to run for the position, given that the municipal election, held not even a month ago, failed to attract any more than the bare minimum of requisite councillor candidates?

“I truly don’t think there is a concern there,” said Miller, adding he’s heard of two or three people who had strongly considered running for Invermere council this fall, but decided at the last minute to leave it until another time.

“So there is interest there. With the opportunity now open again, I’m sure we’re going to see at least two people, and maybe even three people, come forth,” he said.

In the interim Invermere will operate as a four-person council (one mayor and three councillors), giving rising to the possibility of tied council votes. All municipal councils in B.C., no matter their size, have an odd number of council members (four councillor plus one mayor, for instance, or six councillors plus one mayor, or eight councillors plus one mayor, etc.) in order to avoid just such a situation. A motion that is voted on by council must have a majority of councillors vote in favour to pass. This means any motion that gets a tied two-two vote at Invermere council for the next few weeks would be defeated.