Ontario Taking Next Steps to Expand Strong Mayor Powers and Tackle the Housing Supply Crisis
Province introduces further measures to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities
November 16, 2022
Municipal Affairs and Housing
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TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government introduced the Better Municipal Governance Act, 2022, which, if passed, would take decisive action to address the housing supply crisis by assessing how best to extend strong mayor powers and reduce municipal duplication to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities – primarily the building of 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years.
As the province considers how to best extend strong mayor tools to more of Ontario’s rapidly growing municipalities, provincially-appointed facilitators will be tasked with assessing the regional governments in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo and York. These facilitators will work with local governments to assess the best mix of roles and responsibilities between upper and lower-tier municipalities and ensure they are equipped to deliver on the government’s commitment to tackle the housing supply crisis.
The proposed legislation would allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to appoint the Regional Chairs of Niagara, Peel and York regions for the current term of council. If these proposals are passed, the Minister intends to re-appoint the existing regional chairs – Jim Bradley in Niagara, Nando Iannicca in Peel, and Wayne Emerson in York. This approach will provide continuity and stability at the regional level as facilitators consider how best to extend strong mayor powers to existing two-tier municipalities that are shovel-ready and committed to growth and cutting red tape.
The proposed legislation would also implement additional changes to enable the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa to propose certain municipal by-laws related to provincial priorities and enable council to pass these by-laws if more than one-third of council members vote in favour. Provincial priorities include building more homes, which could, for example, involve expanding the footprint of transit-oriented communities so more people can live, work and play near the convenience of public transit.
“These bold actions are necessary if our government is to keep its commitment to Ontarians and remove the obstacles standing in the way of much-needed housing,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “That’s why we are again taking decisive action to provide municipal leaders the tools they need to plan for future population growth and get more homes built faster.”
These changes are the latest in a series of measures Ontario is taking to address the province’s serious shortage of housing. These measures include the More Homes Built Faster Act, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act and previous housing supply action plans. The government is committed to continued action that will end the supply crisis while ensuring continuity and efficiency at the local level. The government also remains committed to supporting our municipal partners, increasing housing supply and ensuring municipalities have the tools they need to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities.
“Today’s announcement by the provincial government is a positive step toward reforming local government in a manner that addresses the concerns of Mississaugans,” said Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga. “I’m confident this assessment will create a path for Mississauga’s independence and lead to greater fairness and less red tape for residents and businesses, so both the city and province can plan for future growth and support the province’s goal of building 120,000 new homes in Mississauga over the next decade.”
“Redundancy is the enemy of productivity,” said Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton. “I am glad the provincial government is looking at ways to make municipalities in Peel more efficient by removing duplication. This will help address the challenges of growth and support the construction of the homes Brampton residents so desperately need.”
- Existing municipal accountability frameworks would continue to apply to heads of council with strong mayor powers, including conflict of interest rules. Heads of council would also be required to provide council and the clerk a copy of the by-law and reasons for the proposal when using the proposed by-law power.
- The Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act provide Ontario’s municipalities with broad powers to pass by-laws on various matters within their jurisdiction – such as zoning, parking, and the delivery of local services.
- Ontario’s first housing plan, More Homes, More Choice was released in 2019. It was followed by More Homes for Everyone in spring 2022. Ontario is seeing strong progress resulting from these plans, with annual housing starts well above average for the past 30 years.
- The government is committed to developing a new housing supply action plan for every year of its current mandate to continue delivering real, long-term housing solutions.
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