Thunder Bay to Discuss and Prepare for Strong Mayor Powers

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500 Donald Street East - Thunder Bay City Hall
500 Donald Street East - Thunder Bay City Hall

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – In a significant political development, a pivotal report is set to be unveiled to the Thunder Bay City Council on Monday, September 18, shedding light on the potential ramifications of the province’s Strong Mayor powers on the Corporation’s governance.

Presently, Strong Mayor powers are already in effect in 27 municipalities across Ontario, yet Thunder Bay remains conspicuously absent from this list as it awaits official designation.

Authored by City Clerk Krista Power, the report meticulously dissects the accompanying legislation, elucidating how the newly proposed Strong Mayor powers could reshape the dynamics of the city. The envisaged powers for the Mayor include the authority to:

  • Appoint, dismiss, and delegate “other duties” to the City Manager.
  • Determine the organizational structure of the City.
  • Hire or dismiss the “head of any other part of the organizational structure” within the City.
  • Direct municipal employees to undertake research, provide advice, and execute duties while implementing decisions.
  • Appoint chairs and vice-chairs of prescribed local boards.
  • Establish or dissolve Committees of Council, appoint Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and assign functions to Committees.
  • Mandate the Council to deliberate on matters that align with provincial priorities.
  • Possess veto power over By-laws that could impede provincial priorities.
  • Propose, draft, and ratify the annual budget, along with proposing budget amendments throughout the year.

The proposed powers span a spectrum of complexity, incorporating specific timelines for vetoing decisions, appealing decisions, or requiring merely one-third support from the Council. However, it should be noted that some legislative changes are pending confirmation from the provincial authorities, particularly concerning the potential impact on local boards.

Furthermore, within the framework of provincial regulations that govern the implementation of Strong Mayor Powers, there exists the possibility of delegating some of this authority to City Administration.

Mayor Ken Boshcoff is slated to address the Council on Monday, presenting a memorandum that seeks their endorsement for a formal request to the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This request advocates for the enactment of Strong Mayor powers in Thunder Bay while simultaneously reaffirming the city’s commitment to achieving its prescribed Housing Target.

This pivotal development stems from Premier Ford’s announcement at the Association for Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in August 2023. The Premier declared that 21 additional municipalities, including Thunder Bay, would be granted Strong Mayor powers if their mayors (or heads of council) pledge in writing to meet their provincially assigned housing targets by October 15. Thunder Bay’s designated housing target stands at 2,200 homes by the year 2031.

The deliberations set to unfold in Thunder Bay’s City Council on September 18 promise to shape the city’s governance landscape for years to come. Stay tuned for more updates as this story develops.

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