Ontario introduces ‘strong mayor’ legislation to speed up housing development

Barrie mayor says there isn't much in the legislation that is going to speed up housing


Ontario is proposing to give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa veto powers over bylaws that conflict with provincial priorities, such as building housing.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark introduced the legislation today, called the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act.

It would allow the mayors of those two cities to override council approval of a bylaw, for example, a zoning bylaw, that would hamper a set of provincial priorities that will be set out later in regulations.

But examples of priorities that government officials give include the goal of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years and building critical infrastructure.

A council could override the mayor’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote.

The legislation would also give the mayors the responsibility for preparing and tabling their city’s budget, instead of council, appoint a chief administrative officer, and hire and fire department heads, except for statutory appointments such as an auditor general, police chief or fire chief.

The mayors of other large cities have expressed interest in such powers, and officials say the government could add new cities to the legislation later through regulation.

Ford did not indicate during the recent election campaign that he was planning to introduce such legislation.

Banner image: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark answers questions after an announcement in the Ontario Legislature, in Toronto, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. Ontario is set to introduce legislation today to give large municipal leaders so-called strong mayor powers as a way to get housing built more quickly.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.