Ontario empowering Mayors of Toronto, Ottawa deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities

Representative image of Building More Homes Credit: Unsplash

Toronto/CMEDIA: A legislation dubbed the ‘Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act’, was introduced by the Ontario government on Aug 10 that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa more responsibility to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities including the power to hire and fire department heads, single-handedly propose the municipal budget, and veto bylaws related to matters of provincial authority, approved by council.

The mayoral veto could reportedly be overturned if two-thirds of the council vote to overrule it.

Mayoral powers to veto by-laws approved by council and bring items for council consideration would only apply for matters relating to provincial priorities, which will be set out in regulations.

The Ford government touted the legislation as a tool to give the mayors the ability to move priority projects forward including building 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years

This legislation, if passed, would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the ability to move priority projects forward and get more homes built faster. Proposed changes include:

  • hiring the Chief Administrative Officer and municipal department heads, and creating and re-organize departments
  • appointing chairs/vice-chairs for identified committees and local boards, and establish new identified committees
  • bringing matters for council consideration related to provincial priorities
  • vetoing bylaws approved by council if they relate to matters of provincial priority
  • proposing the municipal budget

This legislation is an important tool and is one of a number of initiatives being taken by the Ontario government to address the housing shortage.

“The reality is over one-third of Ontario’s growth over the next decade is expected to happen in Toronto and Ottawa, and too many families are already struggling with housing and the rising cost of living…While there is no silver bullet to addressing the housing crisis, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act is another step in the right direction to get 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years,” Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has said in a news release.

Thirty-five per cent of Ontario’s projected growth to 2031 is expected to happen in Toronto and Ottawa.

After the success of More Homes, More Choice and More Homes for Everyone, Ontario has committed starting in 2022-23, to creating a housing supply action plan every year over four years.

These proposed measures would not only facilitate the Council to make amendments to the municipal budget but would also enable overriding the mayor’s veto of any budget amendments and by-laws related to provincial priorities with a two-thirds majority vote.

The proposed legislation would reportedly take effect on November 15, 2022, the start of the new municipal council term subject to it being passed.

To enable Ontario communities to build more attainable homes, Ontario is also launching the Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team (HSAPIT) to provide advice on market housing initiatives, including building on the vision from the Housing Affordability Task Force, More Homes for Everyone, and other government consultations.

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