Municipal legislation review: Comment

28 October 2015

The Greenspace Alliance sent in some comments on municipal legislation as requested in a June 2015 Discussion Guide from the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The comments are here.  Some highlights:

+ The City of Toronto Act‘s authority to levy taxes other than property taxes should be extended to Ottawa.  A Land Transfer Tax could be earmarked for the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands. All municipalities should also, like Toronto, have the authority to require green roofs.

+ Since the abolition of synopsis Minutes in April 2011, access to the proceedings of Ottawa’s Standing Committees and Council has greatly diminished. Video and audio tapes are, at best, complementary to a written, searchable record. The Province should oblige municipalities to provide synopsis Minutes of meetings of Committees and Council.

+ The absence of printed basic documents such as Official and Master Plans, and Zoning and other By-laws, is a barrier to access for people on the other side of the digital divide.  The Province should oblige municipalities to provide documents in both printed and electronic form.

+ The City of Ottawa’s consultation and public engagement practices are well inferior to what one would expect from a large and mature municipality.  The Province should ensure that municipalities adhere to minimum standards of receiving input from its citizens.  Such minimum should be well beyond the ability to speak for 5 minutes at a Committee meeting.

UPDATE – 2 December 2015

Province decides against extending land transfer tax

One of the suggestions we made has been shot down: Ability to introduce a municipal land transfer tax will not be extended beyond Toronto, the Minister announced in the Legislature:

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/ontario-wont-expand-the-municipal-land-transfer-tax-beyond-torontos-borders

UPDATE – 16 November 2016

Province introduces legislation

The Government today introduced legislation amending the three Acts that were under review (news release ; backgrounder).  Based on the Backgrounder,  Bill 68, “Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2016,” does not appear to include any of the suggestions highlighted above but does contain this clarification:

…municipalities may pass climate change by-laws and participate in long-term planning for energy use, which could help address the impacts of climate change in their communities.

[As of 21 Jan 2017 the Bill is still in Second Reading debate]