John Tory’s extended mayoral powers are now officially in place.
Bill 3 -- the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022 -- was proclaimed into law today, coming into effect immediately.
The Bill greatly expands the authority of Toronto and Ottawa’s mayors, now allowing them to:
- Choose to appoint the municipality’s chief administrative officer
- Hire certain municipal department heads and establish and reorganize departments
- Create committees of Council, assign their functions and appoint the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of committees of Council
- Propose the municipal budget, subject to council amendments and a head of Council veto and Council override process
In order to exercise these powers, Tory will be required to put his intent in writing, notifying the Clerk and Councillors. He must also make the decisions public, to be posted online via signed Mayoral Decisions to the Clerk.
The Clerk will also establish a public e-mail subscription list that will allow members of the public to get notice of decisions as they are posted.
Notably, the mayors will be able to bring forward or veto matters relating to “certain prescribed provincial priorities”. While these priorities have not yet been established, they’ll mainly pertain to the creation of housing, with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing indicating these regulations are to be determined and enforced at a later date.
The mayors of Ontario’s other municipalities could soon have the same widened authority, as Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, tabled legislation last Wednesday under the Better Municipal Governance Act, that would allow the province to appoint facilitators in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo, and York to assess the best strategies for rolling out the powers in those municipalities.
While Premier Doug Ford has said the purpose of Bill 3 is to boost the creation of housing, transit-oriented development, and infrastructure by giving mayors the ability to override Council pushback to such initiatives, concerns have arisen that its true purpose is to utlimately give the province greater powers.
In fact, five former Toronto mayors -- Art Eggleton, David Crombie, Barbara Hall, David Miller, and John Sewell -- have gone as far to warn Tory, calling the Bill “undemocratic” in a letter emailed to the mayor’s office last Sunday.
“We are appalled at this attack on one of the essential tenets of our local democracy and a fundamental democratic mechanism: majority rule,” states the letter. “We are fearful of the real substantive risks this change would pose for our city. The principle of majority rule has always been and must continue to be how council conducts the public’s business.”
Meanwhile, fresh faces to council have also voiced their displeasure; new city councillors Alejandra Bravo Ausma Malik and Jamaal Myers -- along with municipal representative Josh Matlow -- have indicated their opposition.
Tory, however, has stated he’d only put his newfound powers to use in order to override councillor opposition to new housing development initiatives… but we suppose only time will tell whether they’ll go to his head.