City Council and its Committees Learning Guide
The Structure of Council
Toronto City Council is the main governing and legislative body of the City of Toronto. City Council is composed of the Mayor and 44 Councillors who make decisions on behalf of their constituents.
Much of what is discussed at City Council are reports from its various Committees, including Community Councils, Standing Policy Committees, the Executive Committee, and other Committees of Council. These Committees report to City Council and make recommendations for a final decision, although Community Councils have some powers to make decisions on specific issues. Each City Councillor sits on at least one of these Committees.
For more information on how City Council discusses issues and makes decisions, see our guide to Decision Making.
There are four Community Councils, each representing a different geographic area of the city. Their responsibilities include making recommendations and decisions on local planning and development, as well as neighbourhood matters including traffic plans and parking regulations. Community Councils report to City Council but they also have final decision-making power on certain items, such as front yard parking and appointments to local boards and Business Improvement Areas.
Standing Policy Committees
There are seven different Standing Policy Committees, described below. Each committee discusses certain services and issues. As these Committees go through the items on their agenda they typically make recommendations to City Council. For example, the Parks & Environment Committee might recommend that Council adopt a staff report, or they may recommend Council adopt it with changes suggested by the Committee. When City Council meets, they consider these recommendations from the Standing Policy Committees to help with their decision making. Members of the public may arrange to speak or submit comments on agenda items to these committees.
Community Development & Recreation
Focus: Social inclusion and undertaking work to strengthen services to communities and neighbourhoods.
Focus: Monitors and makes recommendations to strengthen Toronto’s economy and investment climate.
Focus: Government assets and resources; monitors and makes recommendations on the administrative operations of the City.
Licensing & Standards
Focus: Consumer safety and protection; monitors and makes recommendations on the licensing of business and the enforcement of property standards.
Parks & Environment
Focus: Monitors, makes recommendations and undertakes work to ensure the sustainability of Toronto’s natural environment.
Planning & Growth Management
Focus: Urban form and work related to good city planning; monitors and makes recommendations on the planning, growth and development of the City.
Public Works & Infrastructure
Focus: Delivers and maintains Toronto’s infrastructure; monitors and makes recommendations on Toronto’s infrastructure needs and services.
Monitors and makes recommendations on Council’s strategic policy and priorities, governance policy and structure, financial planning and budgeting, fiscal policy including revenue and tax policies, intergovernmental and international relations, Council and its operations, and human resources and labour relations.
Several committees report only to the Executive Committee:
Focus: Affordable housing policies, acquiring land for affordable housing, providing funding and financing, development fee and charge waivers and property tax reductions or waivers for affordable housing projects. Proposes legislation and advocates to the provincial and federal governments. In charge of strategic planning for Toronto Community Housing, and measuring the effectiveness of Affordable Housing Office projects.
Focus: Includes, but is not limited to, coordinating the preparation of the capital and operating estimates, and making recommendations on the capital and operating budgets.
Employee and Labour Relations
Focus: Reviews corporate human resource policy issues related to achieving and maintaining excellence in the public service and issues that affect the workforce. Responsibilities include compensation, performance management, training and development, recruitment, retention, retirement, labour relations, human rights, equity goals, wellness, and health and safety strategic policy direction on collective bargaining.
Focus: Considers and recommends to Council the appointment of external auditors for the City and the Auditor General’s office; the annual external audits of the financial statements of the City, its agencies and the Auditor General’s office; the Auditor General’s reports, audit plan and accomplishments.
Board of Health
Focus: Ensures that Toronto Public Health delivers programs and services in response to local needs; determines and sets public health policy and advises City Council on a broad range of health issues; recommendations with city-wide or financial implications are forwarded to City Council for final approval.
Civic Appointments Committee
Focus: Considers and recommends to Council the citizens to appoint to agencies.
Focus: Recommends councillor appointments to fill the positions of the boards outlined above, as well many other boards, agencies and advisory committees; makes recommendations to Council on the meeting schedule for Council and Council Committees.