Ontario passes law boosting ‘strong mayor’ powers in Toronto, Ottawa

TORONTO — Ontario has passed legislation that allows Toronto and Ottawa to enact certain bylaws even if a minority of councillors are in favour, capping off a whirlwind of widely criticized housing-related moves.

The latest bill allows the province to appoint the regional chairs in Niagara, Peel and York, and boosts so-called strong mayor powers that the government gave to Toronto and Ottawa earlier this year.

The first set of powers allowed the leaders to veto council decisions deemed to hamper the creation of new homes, prepare and table the city’s budget, as well as hiring and firing department heads, and the new powers allow them to propose housing-related bylaws and pass them with the support of one-third of councillors.

However, while Toronto Mayor John Tory has said he will use the powers in a limited and responsible way, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe has said he is not interested in using them.

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Read more: Majority of Toronto council condemns new strong mayor powers for John Tory

The legislation follows another housing law that angered municipalities because it cuts fees developers pay that they use to build infrastructure for new homes and upset environmentalists who say it weakens the role of conservation authorities.

As well, the government has proposed to remove land from 15 different areas of the protected Greenbelt so that 50,000 homes can be built, while adding acres elsewhere.

&© 2022 The Canadian Press

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