Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Ontario government is expanding strong mayor powers to 26 large and fast-growing municipalities that have committed to a housing pledge as part of the province’s work to build 1.5 million homes by 2031.
The announcement was made by Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing at a meeting of the Ontario Big City Mayors. Strong mayor powers for Toronto and Ottawa took effect in fall 2022 and will be expanded to mayors in the 26 additional municipalities on July 1. They are:
- Niagara Falls
- Richmond Hill
- St. Catharines
“Municipalities are critical partners for our government as we help communities get shovels in the ground faster and work to build more homes,” Clark. said “By adopting ambitious and absolutely necessary housing pledges, these 26 municipalities have demonstrated they understand the importance of that target, and we are ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed.
“We welcome housing pledges from other municipalities to help reach our goal of 1.5 million homes by 2031.”
Strong mayor powers will help municipalities cut red tape and speed up housing, transit and infrastructure construction, Clark said.
Mayors will be able to:
- appoint the municipality’s chief administrative officer
- hire certain municipal department heads
- propose the municipal budget, which would be subject to council amendments and a separate head of council veto and council override process
- Veto by-laws if the head of council is of the opinion that all or part of the by-law could potentially interfere with a provincial priority
“Ontario’s big city mayors back the province’s goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031, and all of our members have accepted their housing pledge in support of that target,” said Marianne Meed Ward, mayor of Burlington. “Different communities require different tools and approaches to address local housing needs, and strong mayor powers are one such tool that can help mayors and municipalities meet their housing targets.
“We’re committed to continue working with the province to build the homes our residents need.”
The 28 municipalities that will have strong mayor powers as of July 1, 2023, have collectively pledged to build 1,217,000 units by 2031 – more than 81 per cent of the provincial target of 1.5 million homes.