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Toronto mayor to receive veto powers over city council with new legislation

Click to play video: 'Ford government tables legislation to give mayors of Toronto, Ottawa strong powers'
Ford government tables legislation to give mayors of Toronto, Ottawa strong powers
WATCH ABOVE: The Ford government unveiled new legislation that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the power to veto city council decisions. Global’s Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello reports – Aug 10, 2022

The mayors of Toronto and Ottawa are set to receive sweeping powers that would allow them to veto city council decisions, set the city budget, and hire and fire the chief of police and the medical officer of health.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark unveiled new legislation at Queen’s Park on Wednesday that would strip powers away from city councillors and hand them over to the mayor, which the province claims would help speed up the construction of 1.5 million new affordable housing units over the next decade.

Read more: Ford throne speech says more can be done on health staffing; offers no new solutions

The government said the legislation would take effect on Nov. 15, effectively making the strong mayor powers a municipal election issue with 75 days left until local voters head to the polls.

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Under the proposed legislation, the mayors of Ottawa and Toronto would be given the power to override city council decisions on bylaws if the mayor believes they could “interfere with a provincial priority.”

Those provincial priorities would be dictated — through regulation — by the premier and cabinet from Queen’s Park, effectively giving the provincial government direct say over local municipal decision making.

The government said the priorities would initially deal with affordable housing and zoning rules, but could eventually be expanded to include other items on the provincial dashboard.

Read more: Toronto, Ottawa mayors could receive veto power, Ford says

Under the new rules, the mayor could consider whether a bylaw passed by city council aligns with the province’s wishes and veto the decision within 14 days of the council vote.

The government stressed, however, that two-thirds of city council could overrule the mayor within 21 days of the veto.

Veto powers would also be extended to the budget-making process, which would be strictly under the mayor’s authority to prepare and table every year. Ministry officials speaking on background indicated that municipalities that are “committed to growth” and that will “ready themselves for the development of more housing” could be given the same strong mayor powers.

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Premier Doug Ford said Toronto and Ottawa would serve as pilot cities and pledged to extend the powers to the mayors of other large municipalities in the years to come.

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