Legislation to extend the mayor’s so-called strong powers to municipalities outside of Toronto and Ottawa has not gone down well with a pair of local councilors who hope it won’t come to fruition. London.
On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he plans to expand the measure to get more homes built and increase housing supply across the province.
The mayor’s expanded powers will be extended to other cities in Ontario
Introduced last week by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, the legislation would give mayors of select cities “veto power” over regulations that conflict with provincial priorities, such as the construction of additional housing.
According to the bill, the legislation would also give mayors responsibility for preparing and tabling their city’s budget, rather than the council, appointing a chief executive and hiring and firing department heads at the exclusion of statutory appointments, such as Auditor General, Chief of Police or Fire Chief.
Ford government introduces bill to give mayors of Toronto and Ottawa sweeping powers
However, according to Ward 2 Councilor Shawn Lewis, this legislation is low on the council’s wish list, saying it ‘gives too much power to one position’.
“My real fear is that it’s just going to lead to more partisanship [and] more political party style governance instead of the consensus building that we get at the board level where there are no political parties,” he stressed.
“If the municipality were to have a wish list of things that we need the provincial government to do, it would be eighth to nine hundredth on the list.
Ward 4 Councilor Jesse Helmer shared similar concerns and said the province has other tools to boost housing, such as Ontario’s Planning Act – a provincial law that sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario.
“We want to see more housing built [and] we want to see more inward and upward development, things that are more affordable for the average person and the province can do things at the provincial level to help make that happen, but that has nothing to do with the power of the mayor,” Helmer said.
“I don’t really see how it’s going to speed anything up,” he continued. “It’s not a recipe for getting things done faster.”
Toronto mayor will get veto power over city council with new legislation
Agreeing, Lewis says extending the mayoral powers legislation is “not the most helpful thing” the provincial government can do for local municipalities.
“Of all the things the province could do for us, from increasing ODSP and OW so that people have a subsistence rate to rent an apartment in our communities,” he continues, “to address the lack criticism of mental health beds to deal with some changes to the Police Services Act so that we are not using police resources to respond to mental health issues, deal with the justice system and the backlogs there on the capturing and releasing people who commit criminal activity in our community — of all the things the province could do, it’s the least helpful.
“There are tools that were helping that are actually being taken down,” Lewis added, referring to the success of municipal or banned bonuses. “The tool that is on offer with the strong powers of the mayor is not going to replace that. It won’t change anything here in London.
Additionally, Helmer mentioned the importance of the council management system, which combines strong political leadership from elected officials in the form of a council or other governing body with the management experience of a government manager. local named.
It’s a system he doesn’t want to lose because of potentially strong mayoral powers.
“It’s a really important system where we have civic administration that’s not political,” Helmer explained. “Having the mayor run them and be able to fire people, fire people and put their own people in, that’s a path we really don’t want to go down in Ontario.
Toronto council discusses strong powers for mayor
Helmer added that historically strong mayoral systems can lead to partisanship, referencing similar systems found in the United States.
“In New York there was Michael Bloomberg,” Helmer said. “He put all these people to run these different departments, he brought in the budget and he had all these powers of the strong mayor, but he was also operating in a party system which is very different from what we have here in Ontario. ”
Premier Ford did not say how far the legislation will be extended, but said more information is expected to arrive in the coming months.
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