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New details show how veto control of Ontario's strong mayor powers works

The Ontario legislature is pictured at Queen's Park in downtown Toronto in this file photo. (Joshua Freeman /CP24) The Ontario legislature is pictured at Queen's Park in downtown Toronto in this file photo. (Joshua Freeman /CP24)

The Ontario government has released proposed regulations for its so-called ‘strong mayor’ legislation that reveal when a veto can be used.

The proposed regulations, which were posted Monday, build on Premier Doug Ford’s pitch that Bill 3 will enable municipalities to build housing more quickly.

The legislation gives the mayors of Ontario’s two largest cities—Toronto and Ottawa—veto powers over bylaws that conflict with “provincial priorities,” with an emphasis on housing development.

However, until now those priorities had been left undefined.

According to the proposed regulations, those priorities now include the Progressive Conservatives’ pledge to build 1.5 million new residential units by 2031, as well as any construction and maintenance of infrastructure that supports housing. This can include items such as transit, roads and utilities.

The regulations also allow the veto to apply to development charge bylaws, which municipalities sometimes impose on land developers to pay for costs associated with related capital projects such as transit, parks, and other maintenance services.

In addition to the veto powers, Bill 3 gives the mayor the ability to control the city’s budget; something that typically has been the responsibility of council as a whole.

The proposed regulations say the mayor’s budget must be complete by Feb. 1 or else the duty to prepare and adopt the budget will transfer to council.

In the event that a mayor does propose a budget, council has 30 days to amend it.

“The (mayor) has 10 days from the end of the council review period to veto a council resolution,” the regulations say. “Council may then override a (mayor’s) veto with a 2/3 majority vote within 15 days.”

“At the end of this process, the resulting budget is deemed to be adopted by the municipality.”

Many of the other regulations include slight administrative changes to the legislation, which would allow mayors to hire and fire department heads and appointment chairs for council committees.

The legislation is set to go into effect on Nov. 15 after the regulations are approved—just in time for the start of a new council term.

The bill itself passed in early September. Top Stories

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