“Strong Mayor” Legislation Coming to Ontario
The Ontario government is proposing to give mayors of its major cities, such as Toronto and Ottawa, veto powers over bylaws that conflict with building housing. The legislation introduced intends to hand power to cities in the most urgent need of new housing and that are “shovel ready.”
The bill would allow mayors in Toronto and Ottawa to override council approval of bylaws, such as a zoning bylaw amendment. The legislation will also give mayors the responsibility for preparing and tabling the city budget, instead of council, appointing a chief administrative officer, hiring and firing heads of departments (with the exception as the auditor general, police or fire chief). The government’s greater goal is to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years and to build critical infrastructure. It hopes to support efficient local decision-making to speed up development timelines, cut red tape and get housing built faster.
Not all on board:
Although Toronto welcomed the proposal, Ottawa’s government doesn’t entirely support the move. Mayor Jim Watson expressed that more power won’t build more houses. Instead, more money, flexibility in rules, such as inclusionary zoning, which would allow for more construction and greater in certain areas. Furthermore, ending exclusionary zoning would allow for the building of duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes on lots zoned for single-family housing.
Will Premier Ford’s attempt to localize decision-making power facilitate the construction of new housing options for the people of Ontario?
The Ontario Real Estate Association said the strong mayor legislation is a good step, but would like to see it extended to cities beyond Toronto and Ottawa. Overall, Ontario is 1.2 million homes (rented and owned) short of the G7 average, with prices tripling in the last 10 years.
Only time will tell.
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