Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 11, 2017 - 7:00 am

Resignation leaves Nunavut’s capital with only six city councillors

Megan Pizzo-Lyall resigns, city will soon set by-election date

LISA GREGOIRE
Megan Pizzo-Lyall with fellow councillor Kuthula Matshazi, at an Iqaluit city council meeting Jan. 10. Pizzo-Lyall announced at the meeting that she will be resigning from council to pursue a job outside of Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY LISA GREGOIRE)
Megan Pizzo-Lyall with fellow councillor Kuthula Matshazi, at an Iqaluit city council meeting Jan. 10. Pizzo-Lyall announced at the meeting that she will be resigning from council to pursue a job outside of Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY LISA GREGOIRE)

(Updated 3:45 p.m., Jan. 11)

Iqaluit’s first council meeting of 2017 started with a bombshell: Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall says she has all but accepted a job offer in another community and therefore, must resign her city council seat.

Pizzo-Lyall, who, at age 27, earned the second highest number of votes in 2015 after deputy mayor Romeyn Stevenson, delivered the news haltingly Jan. 10, pausing to collect herself. She told Nunatsiaq News later that the decision to leave was a difficult one to make.

“It was a tough decision but it’s one I’ve been sitting on for a bit now, but it’s the right one for me,” said Pizzo-Lyall, during a break in the meeting.

“I’m just so grateful that I was elected onto city council in 2015 and I don’t take that lightly, that I was elected to this position.”

She thanked Iqaluit voters for having faith in her and trusting her to be a leader, and added that she appreciated the opportunity they gave her.

“We got a lot done and there’s not a lot of great stories in the media all the time about what we do but behind closed doors, we get great things done and that’s one of the things I’ll miss, and also being part of council, having the opportunity to make decisions that affect the whole city.”

Pizzo-Lyall began her member’s statement at the beginning of the council meeting by thanking the recreation department for their hard work organizing the Christmas games over the holidays, and then delivered the news of her resignation.

She was not prepared to offer details of her plans to leave Iqaluit, saying everything should be finalized by Jan. 13. Meantime, she said she will cherish her time on council.

Mayor Madeleine Redfern said councillors will be sad to see her go.

“Councillor Pizzo-Lyall has been a valuable member of council,” said Redfern.

“We’ve greatly valued her contributions in council meetings and discussions and deliberations and I understand that she’s made a decision to pursue opportunities outside the community. She will be greatly missed but we wish her the best.”

Coun. Terry Dobbin echoed the mayor’s sentiments.

“She was intelligent. She was a great asset,” Dobbin said. “She will be missed.”

Pizzo Lyall’s departure leaves at least one looming question in its wake: will city council move to fill the vacancy?

“Going forward, I’m just wondering now, we’re down to six councillors, what’s going to happen next? That’s my major concern,” said Dobbin, during a break in the council meeting.

Iqaluit is supposed to have eight councillors but the municipality’s governing body was already one councillor short after Gideonie Joamie resigned from council in May 2015.

Councillors had several options to fill his seat—hold a by-election or offer the seat to the person who won the next biggest amount of votes in 2015—but they decided to press on instead with seven councillors and the mayor.

With yet another resignation, they may be forced to fill the vacancy.

A case in point—at the Jan. 10 meeting, the city had to appoint chairs and vice-chairs for 12 different municipal committees from recreation to disabilities, public safety and grievances and Coun. Joanasie Akumalik ended up as chair of five different committees. There just weren’t enough councillors to lead those bodies.

The city announced late in the afternoon Jan. 11 that it will hold a by-election to fill the spots left vacant by the departures of Pizzo-Lyall and Joamie.

The announcement said the date of that by-election will be set in the near future.

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by HockeyDad on January 11, 2017

Another year, another councillor quits. Same old story.

#2. Posted by Ratepayer on January 11, 2017

First of all, best wishes to Ms. Pizzo-Lyall. I hope she does well in the new opportunity that she is pursuing in the other community. Compared to most of the young people in Iqaluit, she is a bright young woman.

However, if any other young person is thinking about running for elected office or pursuing some, you should think long and hard about whether you really want to make the commitment.

These kinds of resignations are very unhealthy for the city council because they create instability and uncertainty. The council will now have to find one or two more councillors who will need to get up to speed.

A three year commitment is not a long time, but it is still a commitment. Do not run for election if you are not willing to make the commitment no matter what. Young people need to learn to make solid commitments instead of jumping every year from one thing to another.

Good luck Ms. Pizzo Lyall, I hope this has been a valuable learning experience.

#3. Posted by Lewis Falkiner MacKay on January 11, 2017

All the best Megan.  I’ve seen the positive impact you’ve made, thank you for your service.

#4. Posted by Lewis Falkiner MacKay on January 11, 2017

I would like to see someone take a hard look at why Iqaluit By-Elections cost $90,000 when Hay River’s cost $3,500.  (www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/hay-river-council-downsize-1.3930145)

-Iqaluit has twice the population of Hay River, not 25 times more.

-NWT and Nunavut have almost identical municipal election laws.
(http://canlii.ca/t/8hwr vs. http://canlii.ca/t/8l60)

#5. Posted by Taxpayer on January 11, 2017

Go Kenny!

#6. Posted by Home owner on January 11, 2017

#4 I agree, everything the city does seem to cost so much more for some reason.
Much more than other similar place and I am not talking about being more but a lot more.

#7. Posted by Supporter on January 11, 2017

thank you so much Megan.  Very well done and congrats.  No chohice but for Kenny to return please. please.

#8. Posted by Crystal Clarity on January 11, 2017

Megan Pizzo-Lyall was a breath of fresh air on council. I will be sorry to see her go. Hard worker and very intelligent. But life brings changes and opportunities. Best of luck in your future endeavours.

#9. Posted by Former RO on January 12, 2017

#4 - tell ya what - volunteer to run the by-election for $3500 and let me know how that goes!

#10. Posted by insider on January 12, 2017

Sad to see but not surprising, you could see megan getting progressively annoyed with the city council and the other councillors.

good luck to you

#11. Posted by Amused on January 12, 2017

LOL at #3 and #4 Mr. Lewis Falkiner Mackay, at least I know not to vote for him when he runs in that byelection.

LOL if you think you can an acceptable bylection for $3500 go ahead and try buddy.

For $3500 you have to rent the cadet hall for one day, pay your returning officer and 6 poll workers, get your ballots printed in English and Inukitut, translate your public notices and advertising , which must be in three languages. You also have to rent a small office space, get a phone, email account, fax machine, vet the nominated candidates to make sure they are eligible, pay for gas for at least one vehicle.

Oh yeah, you also have to update the voter list when required and answer questions from the public. This is all work that nobody in their right mind will do for free.

So go on buddy, let’s see you run that election for $3500, I dare you.

#12. Posted by Voter on January 12, 2017

$3500 is what Hay River pays, it is a good question my Iqaluit pays 25 times that for and election, yes I’m sure it’s more expensive here in Iqaluit but not 25 times more.
Let’s see how much this will cost.

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