Toronto is Canada's 6th largest government and needs the flexibility to focus on strategic issues that matter to residents and businesses. The new City of Toronto Act which came into force on January l, 2007 recognizes this need. It introduces new powers to provide tools and options to the new Toronto government to help achieve "made-for-Toronto" policies that support achieving prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all.
The new Act is also part of the Ontario provincial government's overall municipal reform efforts, which recognize cities as strong economic engines. A strong Toronto means a strong province. A strong province means an even stronger country.
Learn more about how you can get involved.
New powers, new opportunities
Parts of the new Act include many rules and regulations the City has always followed. The difference is that there are new, broader powers that allow the Toronto government to the following:
- Pass by-laws that promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of the City, protect the health, safety and well-being of its people and authorize any service the City considers necessary or desirable.
- Delegate powers and service responsibilities to boards and establish City corporations. For instance, the City can establish City boards and change board procedures and powers. It can create corporations, nominate a person to act as a director or officer, and even acquire an interest in a corporation. There is also the opportunity to delegate decisions on local matters, which would strengthen the individual and neighbourhood voices.
- Establish new revenue tools to support City priorities and goals, such as improving our environment. These new revenue tools do not address the City's long-term fiscal imbalance. However, the Act supports the stronger inter-government relations and agreements needed to achieve financial sustainability.
- Exercise major planning powers to shape how Toronto's land is developed. Examples include the authority to control the density and height of development, regulate and reject the demolition of residential rental properties and to have a say on external design features.
- Have a stronger voice when talking to the provincial or federal governments about programs and issues that affect Toronto. For the first time, the City of Toronto can enter into an agreement with a government without having to go to the province for permission.
Clear and Responsible Actions
New powers mean that measures are needed to make sure that the new Toronto government's actions are clear and responsible. These include a Members' Code of Conduct (PDF), Integrity Commissioner, Auditor General, Lobbyist Registry and Ombudsman. At the same time, Council cannot use the new powers in any way that opposes or conflicts with federal or provincial legislation.
The Ombudsman is responsible for addressing concerns about City services and investigating complaints about administrative unfairness. Access the Ombudsman's independent, secure website.
The Toronto government's first use of the new powers is in governance reform, new accountability measures and new council procedures. This is also a chance for the City to look at its current policies, update them and where needed, update and consolidate them. The Act is to be reviewed by the province after two years and every five years after that, with an opportunity to further expand the City's powers.