Four Ontario municipalities turn down strong mayor powers

doug ford strong mayor powers

TORONTO - Several Ontario municipalities have turned down the province's offer of strong mayor powers, with one mayor likening them to a dictatorship.

Municipalities have to commit to a provincially assigned housing target to get the powers, which allow the mayor to propose bylaws and pass them with one-third of council support, prepare the budget, and hire and fire department heads.

Several cities with strong mayor powers have said they won't use them, but now Newmarket, New Tecumseth, Norfolk County and Haldimand County have given a straight-up no thanks.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor has told the province his town can't build 12,000 homes in 10 years because the municipality doesn't currently have anywhere near that sewage capacity.

Norfolk County Mayor Amy Martin says she turned the powers down in part due to concerns about local democracy, but also because her county won't be able to hit the province's housing target.

She and many other mayors have asked the province to count permits, which municipalities control, instead of shovels in the ground because the way financing, supply chain issues and labour shortages can negatively affect developments are out of a municipality's control.

Shelley Ann Bentley, mayor of Haldimand County, says her municipality says councillors are elected to represent the people in their wards, and strong mayor powers sound more like a dictatorship.