There seemed to be a sense of relief around the council table in Saint John today, one day after the resignation of Coun. Donnie Snook.

Snook, 40, is facing eight sex charges involving children and his sudden decision to give up his seat has removed a potentially difficult issue for his former fellow councillors.

His seat is now empty and for now, it will stay that way.

“I think it presents the opportunity for council to turn the page and move forward in 2013 and concentrate on the issues affecting the city,” says Coun. John MacKenzie.

Snook, 40, is facing three counts of sexual interference on a child under 16 years of age, two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of making child pornography and two counts of making child pornography available.

The charges came after police executed a search warrant at Snook’s Martha Avenue home on Jan. 9.

They seized several items, including computer equipment and children sexual abuse images, during their search. Snook was arrested at the scene.

Police say their investigation began in 2011 and involved the RCMP, Saint John Police Force, and Toronto Police Service.

South end residents say Snook’s resignation was the right move for the city.

“I agree that Snook did the right thing, 100 per cent,” says resident Cliff Bustard. “I respect him for doing that part. He did the right thing to get himself out of that position.”

However, Snook’s departure also means that loss of representation for residents of Saint John’s south end, uptown, and parts of the east and west sides.

“I really believe that all members of council, regardless of what ward they represent, will be there to assist any citizen,” says Coun. Shirley McAlary.

The resignation also removes the possibility of a divisive debate at city hall over Snook’s position on council.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Donnie Snook to resign,” says former Saint John Mayor Norm McFarlane. “He’s innocent until proven guilty, but that’s a long time for court proceedings, but now with Donnie giving up his seat, it creates a great opportunity for the city.”

The opportunity to fill his seat won’t come anytime soon. Snook’s seat on council will likely remain vacant for the next several months.

Snook was first elected to Saint John Common Council in 2008, based largely on his work as a community activist in the city’s south end. He was one of only two incumbent councillors to be re-elected in the spring.

The next round of municipal by-elections to fill vacant seats will not be held until the middle of May.

Snook is due in court Monday for a bail hearing.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron