YOUR MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

THE MUNICIPAL ACT

Municipalities are responsible, accountable and mature governments. Recognizing this, The Municipal Act provides a flexible, enabling framework to enable municipalities to govern efficiently and effectively in today's environment. Municipalities have flexibility and autonomy to manage their own affairs and to

make decisions that they think will best meet the needs of their communities.

Recognizing this, there are very few services that municipalities are required by legislation to deliver. Required services include waste management, maintenance of municipal roads, protective services such as fire and for some municipalities (urban municipalities of 750 or more population) police services, and land use planning.

Municipalities, however, can deliver a wide and varied range of other services that are not required by legislation, such as recreation and economic development, as long as these services are within their legislative authority. These services reflect municipalities' own local priorities.

Municipalities are given powers under the Act that they use to deliver municipal services:

 

Government powers - municipalities have powers that are available only to governments. These are significant powers because they have a direct impact on citizens and property owners. These powers include the authority to tax property,

to take an individual’s property for non-payment of taxes through the tax sale process, and to expropriate land for

municipal purposes.

Government powers also include the authority to make laws, known

as by-laws, in the municipality that regulate

the behavior of individuals or private property. Examples

include land use planning and building by-laws, noise bylaws, animal

control by-laws, unsightly property and derelict vehicle

by-laws. Municipalities have authority to enforce their own by-laws.

 

Corporate powers - municipalities have powers similar to other individuals or businesses, which enable them to

operate their municipalities. These powers include the

authority to buy and sell land, to buy equipment, to enter into agreements for services or to tender work.

Under The Municipal Act, municipalities have considerable

autonomy and independence within the broad parameters of

the legislation. This autonomy and independence is balanced

with requirements for transparency and public accountability

recognizing that municipalities are accountable to their citizens first and

foremost.

ROLE OF COUNCIL

Council is elected to make decisions for the municipality about

services, policies and programs. Council members have an equal voice at the council table and every council member has one vote. A majority vote is required to make a council decision which represents the decision of the municipality.  All council members must respect the majority decision, even when they did not vote in favour.

Council is required by The Municipal Act to make decisions

that are in the best interests of the municipality as a whole.

Individual council members elected on a ward basis must

consider the needs of the entire municipality and not only the needs of the ward they represent.

Councils may delegate certain powers, duties or functions to the head of council, a council committee, the Chief Administrative Officer or another designated officer for the municipality. However, there is no authority to delegate powers, duties or functions to an individual council member. This means

that individual council members have no authority to make a

decision on behalf of the municipality. If they do, they may be held financially or legally liable.

BY-LAWS

By-laws are municipal laws that deal with matters that can have significant implications for people and property in the municipality.

Before passing a by-law, Council needs to understand the impact of the proposed by-law, not only on residents and property

owners as a whole, but also on specific property owners, such as cottagers, farmers, and businesses.

Council should also consider the municipality’s ability, as well as

the resources required, to administer and enforce the by-law. Municipalities enforce their by-laws in various ways, including by inspecting property, issuing compliance orders, issuing fines and taking a matter to court. Municipalities can often share the services of a by-law enforcement officer with a neighboring municipality.

Procedures must be followed when passing a by-law to ensure

the process is transparent and to provide opportunity for public

debate. These procedures are:

  • Passed by a majority of council at a meeting that is open to the public. By-laws can only be passed in an open meeting of council. The public can hear Council's debate and know Council's decision.

  • Given three separate "readings". Council must vote on the proposed by-law three different times, with an opportunity for Council discussion and debate between each vote. The

public also has the opportunity to express their views before

each vote.

  • At least two council meetings, with no more than two readings at the same meeting. A minimum of two council meetings are required, with Council giving two readings at one meeting. Councils can consider the input from citizens before making a final decision.

  • Recorded vote on the third reading of a by-law. The recorded vote ensures that the public is aware of how each

council member voted on the matter.

Some by-laws have additional conditions that must be met before a by-law can be passed, such as giving public notice and holding a public hearing. Generally, these conditions are established to provide citizens with an additional opportunity to participate in the decision-making process on matters that may have a significant impact on them, such as proposed local

improvements or special services that will increase property

taxes.

Other by-laws, such as borrowing by-laws or by-laws that

establish water rates, require approval of the Municipal Board

or the Public Utilities Board before they can be passed. These Boards play a key role in protecting citizens' interest and

ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of municipalities.

DELEGATIONS

 

The purpose of appearing as a delegation is to present a well thought out position, or to request a policy or service be implemented. 

 

Each Delegation is limited to 15 minutes to make presentation and to answer questions Council may have following the presentation. The delegation must appoint one spokesperson who shall speak for the delegation, both during the presentation, and during the question period should one be needed. 

 

Any person wishing to appear as a Delegation must make a written request to the Chief Administrative Officer no later than 4:30 pm on the Wednesday prior to the next council meeting, which are held on the first and third Wednesday of every month.  This request MUST include the topic and scope of the presentation. Delegation forms can be sourced here on our official website or you can request one directly from our office

 

Please contact the CAO with any questions you may have in regards to requesting a delegation, we will be happy to advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation. 

 cao.rmstlaur@mymts.net

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