Ontario Premier Doug Ford has signaled his government will expand the power of mayors across the province after introducing legislation last week to give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa broad new authority.
Addressing the Ontario Association of Municipalities on Monday, Ford said the so-called strong powers of mayors “will be extended to other municipalities.”
He said the changes would take effect “so more city leaders like you can help build Ontario.”
Last week, Housing and Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark introduced Bill 3 in an effort to accelerate housing development in Ontario’s two largest cities as the province grapples with a growing housing crisis. worse. If it passes, the Strong Mayors, Housing Construction Law it would give the mayors of those cities veto power over local budgets and council-approved charters on “provincial priority” issues, such as housing, highway and transit construction. The council could only override a mayoral veto with a two-thirds majority vote.
Mayors could also hire and fire senior staff, appoint committee and board chairs, and direct the budget process.
The government argued that a strong mayoral system is needed “to build more houses faster” in Ontario’s two largest cities.
“The reality is that more than a third of Ontario’s growth over the next decade is expected to occur in Toronto and Ottawa, and too many families are already struggling with housing and rising costs of living,” Clark said in a statement. “We need to support efficient local decision-making to help cut red tape and speed up development timelines.”
Ford has previously floated the idea of implementing strong mayoral powers in other municipalities, but not as definitively as he did on Monday.
“In the coming months, we will have more information on how [these] The tools will be extended to other municipalities”, he said.
The Ford-led Progressive Conservative party promised during the spring election campaign to build 1.5 million homes over the next decade to tackle the housing crisis, but made no mention of changing legislation to give mayors more power.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has signaled his government will expand the power of mayors across the province after introducing legislation last week to give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa broad new authority. #ONpoly
“Our government understands that the real solution to the housing crisis is to increase supply, full stop,” Ford said Monday.
An increase in supply was one of the recommendations of a government task force, made up mainly of developers, to tackle the soaring price of housing in the province, where the average cost of housing has risen 44 percent in just two years to more than a million in Toronto and nearly $900,000 in total. Rents also increased dramatically during Ford’s first term to an average of more than $2,300 per month in Ontario and a whopping $3,200 in Toronto.
The Ford administration has failed to act on a key recommendation of that report: that the province give up exclusion zoning to allow homeowners to more easily develop housing, such as suites and alley houses. Such a move, some experts posit, would quickly create a surge in the housing stock while opening a door for individuals and families to earn income from their properties, rather than developers.
Peter Tabuns, interim leader of the ruling Opposition NDP party, said Ford’s push for strong mayoral systems “misses the mark by a mile.”
“Not a single house will be built,” Tabuns said in a speech to the association. “We will urge this administration to work with municipalities to end exclusionary zoning and once again be a partner in financing, building and maintaining affordable housing.”
An op-ed signed by five former Toronto mayors called Ford’s proposed legislation “a sea change … that risks ending meaningful democratic local government.”
“…The province ensures that the almighty mayor is accountable to the province, not his city’s constituents,” wrote David Crombie, Barbara Hall, Art Eggleton, David Miller and John Sewell. in the toronto star.