Update: Hamilton getting ‘strong mayor’ powers

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Published June 16, 2023 at 10:31 am

hamilton mayor andrea horwath doug ford ontario province bill 23 greenbelt

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath has been granted “strong mayor” powers along with 25 other municipalities today (June 16), a move intended to help the province achieve its goal to build 1.5 million homes by 2031.

Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, announced today that the province is expanding “strong mayor” powers to 26 municipalities, which takes effect on July 1, including Oakville, Milton, Hamilton and Niagara Falls. He said these municipalities are large and fast-growing ones that have committed to a housing pledge.

Clark made the announcement at a meeting of the Ontario Big City Mayors. Strong mayor powers for Toronto and Ottawa already took effect in the fall of 2022.

The powers are described as tools to “help cut red tape and speed up the delivery of key shared municipal-provincial priorities such as housing, transit and infrastructure in their municipalities,” according to the province.

“Municipalities are critical partners for our government as we help communities get shovels in the ground faster and work to build more homes,” said Clark in a press release. “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.”

The enhanced powers will also “bring increased accountability for local leaders,” the province said in the press release. Councillors will maintain oversight of the process. For example, with a two-thirds majority vote, council may override the mayor’s veto of by-laws or budget amendments.

“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, chair of Ontario Big City Mayors and 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.”

“Today’s announcement by the provincial government providing strong mayor powers for Ontario’s largest and fastest-growing cities comes at a time when mayors need every tool to advance work on housing pledges and meet new challenges,” added Cam Guthrie, mayor of Guelph and past chair of OBCM, in a press release. “Although strong mayor powers may not be required in all contexts to reach our collective housing goals, our citizens expect results – and tools such as this can help us achieve them.”

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