Ontario passes law strengthening ‘strong mayor’ powers in Toronto, Ottawa

TORONTO – Ontario has passed legislation that would allow Toronto and Ottawa to enact certain statutes even if a minority of council members are in favour.

The latest bill allows the province to appoint regional presidents in Niagara, Peel and York, and reinforces the so-called strong mayoral powers the government gave to Toronto and Ottawa earlier this year.

The first set of powers allowed leaders to veto council decisions that would hinder the creation of new homes, prepare and file the city budget, as well as hire and fire department heads, and the new powers allow them to propose and pass housing-related bylaws with the support of a third of the councillors.

While Toronto Mayor John Tory has said he will use the powers in a limited and responsible manner, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe has said he is not interested in using them.

The legislation follows another housing bill that angered municipalities because it cuts fees paid by developers who use them to build infrastructure for new homes and upset environmentalists who say it weakens the role of conservation authorities.

Also, the government has proposed removing land from 15 different areas of the protected Greenbelt to allow 50,000 homes to be built, while adding acres elsewhere.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 16, 2022.

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