Province pushing legislation that will allow them to appoint Niagara’s Regional Chair

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Published November 16, 2022 at 2:29 pm

The Ontario government has created legislation that would allow them to select the Regional Chair in Niagara, among other regions.

Entitled the “Better Municipal Governance Act 2022,” the legislation is ostensibly being created to speed up the Province’s plan to tackle the housing crisis but actually has far-reaching implications beyond that.

If passed, the proposed legislation would allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark to appoint the Regional Chairs of Niagara, Peel and York regions for the current term of council.

However, it noted that at least for this term, Clark intends to re-appoint the existing regional chairs – Jim Bradley in Niagara, Nando Iannicca in Peel, and Wayne Emerson in York.

While Niagara Regional Council traditionally selected its own chair and Bradley is virtually a lock for the position again, it also gives the Province free reign to select whomever they wish in future elections of regional council.

The election to select Niagara’s Regional Chair by the regional councillors was at the top of the agenda for their November 24 meeting.

“These bold actions are necessary if our government is to keep its commitment to Ontarians and remove the obstacles standing in the way of much-needed housing,” said Clark.

“That’s why we are again taking decisive action to provide municipal leaders the tools they need to plan for future population growth and get more homes built faster.”

It would also lock in the “Strong Mayor” powers for both Ottawa and Toronto whereby those mayors could “propose certain municipal by-laws related to provincial priorities and enable council to pass these by-laws if more than one-third of council members vote in favour.”

In essence, a more than half majority would no longer be needed should the mayors of Ottawa or Toronto decide to push through local legislation that the Province consider “priorities.”

The legislation further allows the Province to take a closer look possibly extending “strong mayor” powers even further.

Said the Ford government, “As the province considers how to best extend strong mayor tools to more of Ontario’s rapidly growing municipalities, provincially-appointed facilitators will be tasked with assessing the regional governments in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo and York.”

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