- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

At last evening's Owen Sound city council meeting, a question was raised at public question period about Ontario's Strong Mayors legislation. 

The questioner, Ms. Houston, was concerned that the the legislation gives mayors "unprecedented powers" to override the democratic process and allow a minority to rule.

In August, Premier Ford expanded these powers to a further 21 municipalities for a total of 49 Ontario mayors.

Mayor Ian Boddy said that these were only cities with populations down to 50,000.

"It is my understanding that they've got some kind of agreement and there's discussions, but your question is for the MPP or the provincial government," he said.

"We really have no authority about what the provincial government does around Strong Mayors," the mayor said to Ms. Houston, "I don't forsee it coming here in my lifetime, and when they do, it will be nine of us that have the discussion."

At the July 24 council meeting this year, Councillor Jon Farmer prepared the notice of the motion below. It was seconded by Deputy Mayor Scott Greig. 

The motion was presented at this point in last evening's meeting, more than two hours after the issue was raised by a citizen.

It was defeated in a 3-4 vote, with Councillor Hamley recused because he is an employee of a provincial ministry.

WHEREAS strong mayor powers make it possible for some votes to pass with a minority of support from a given municipal council;

AND WHEREAS municipal governance is otherwise structured to ensure that motions passed on behalf of a community have the support of the majority of the members of that elected council;

AND WHEREAS strong mayor powers also give mayors the ability to hire and fire senior municipal staff, which could create an environment where the independence and professional input of senior staff is influenced by this power dynamic;

AND WHERAS the independence of municipal staff is essential for the effective and transparent working relationship between staff and councils as a whole;

AND WHEREAS the precedent of strong mayor powers in some Ontario municipalities might justify the extension of those powers to all municipal councils;


  1. Formally express concern with the creation and expansion of these powers and highlight that they are not compatible with a democratic process through a letter to Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Rick Byers, the leaders of the Ontario Liberal, NDP, and Green Parties, as well as the other municipalities in Ontario; and
  2. Request staff to monitor the expansion of these powers and report back should opportunities for consultation on the issue become available.



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