Municipal legislation to become more flexible and accountable

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The Ontario government has announced changes to three key pieces of municipal legislation. If passed, these modernizations would make local governments be more accountable, open and flexible.

The proposed changes impact the Municipal Act, the City of Toronto Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which set out the “responsibilities and conflict of interest rules for Ontario’s municipalities.”

A media release announcing the proposed changes said the move is the result of public consultation and feedback from municipalities and stakeholders and resulted from legislation requiring a review of the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act every five years.

The proposed changes would create an opportunity for:

·         “Increasing fairness and reducing barriers for women and parents elected to municipal governments by allowing time off for pregnancy or parental leave”;

·         “Empowering municipalities to address climate change in their communities through by-laws related to green construction in certain circumstances”;

·         “Broadening municipal investment powers, which may help better finance repairs and replacements of local infrastructure”; and

·         “Improving access to justice for the public and for municipal councillors by allowing integrity commissioners to investigate complaints.”

It would also require “municipalities to have a code of conduct for members of municipal councils and local boards.”

Additionally, it is proposed that the heads of most regional councils be elected to “help ensure they are accountable to the voters they represent under Ontario’s Building Ontario Up For Everyone Act, 2016.”

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