Toronto

NDP introduces bill that would curb power of province to change municipalities

The NDP has introduced legislation that would make it harder for Ontario to make changes to municipalities.

Bill would require province to give notice, consult, gain approval before making changes

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the bill would require the government to give public notice, conduct consultations and get the approval of municipalities before it makes changes. (CBC)

The NDP has introduced legislation that would make it harder for Ontario to make changes to municipalities.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the bill would require the government to give public notice, conduct consultations and get the approval of municipalities before cutting the size of their councils, changing their wards or amalgamating or dissolving them.

On Monday, Horwath accused Ontario Premier Doug Ford of interfering in municipal politics, saying he ignored the wishes of local residents when he cut the size of Toronto city council last year.

"We know Doug Ford is meddling in local affairs as the government's municipal review is well underway, leaving people in municipalities across the province worried that forced amalgamations and even more cuts are on the way," she said.

"Doug Ford shouldn't be able to play mayor in Ontario's municipalities on a whim and today New Democrats are tabling a bill that would prevent him from doing just that."

Ontario Municipal Affairs Steve Clark says: 'Our government values our municipal partners, and we have had, and will continue to have, a very robust consultation with our stakeholders, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.' (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Horwath said no premier should be able to use his or her position to settle "old political scores" at the expense of municipal governments because such moves are politically unacceptable. 

"What we are saying is we are a modern democracy and what we should be doing is acknowledging and respecting the locally elected representatives and the people who live in local communities in terms of how they wish to be governed," she said.

In question period later, the NDP leader raised the issue of municipalities having more say in their affairs.

The question prompted Ontario Municipal Affairs Steve Clark to say that the province is not making changes to municipalities without consultation.

Minister insists province has 'consulted widely'

"Our government values our municipal partners, and we have had, and will continue to have, a very robust consultation with our stakeholders, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario," Clark replied.

Clark said provincial officials are meeting with the association next week and the government has received more than 5,000 submissions from members of the public about its regional government review.

He added that the government has "consulted widely" on Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, and it has received more than 2,000 submissions. He said about 85 per cent of the submissions are from members of the public.

Private member's bills rarely get turned into law. 

With files from CBC News

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