On July 1, 2023, Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson was included among 26 Ontario mayors to be afforded “strong mayor powers.” Now, Mayor Paterson is delegating some of those “powers” back to City Council and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
As previously reported, strong mayor powers offer tools to help bring increased accountability for local leaders, while checks and balances maintain the important oversight role of councillors. For example, council may override the mayor’s veto of by-laws or budget amendments with a two-thirds majority vote.
The additional powers and responsibilities received by the Mayors from the province are found under Part VI.1 of the Municipal Act, 2001. According to a release from the City of Kingston, under this legislation the Mayor of Kingston was given the following tools and authority:
- Appoint and dismiss the Chief Administrative Officer as well as the heads of organizational units;
- Determine the administrative structure of the City;
- Establish committees of Council (Standing Committees) and appoint chairs and vice-chairs of committees of Council;
- Bring to Council matters, or veto by-laws, to advance a prescribed Provincial Priority;
- Prepare and present the budget to Council, subject to Council amendments, a Mayoral veto, and a Council override process; and to
- Direct City staff in writing.
After the announcement of these powers, Kingston City Council debated a motion which noted that “considerable concerns” have been raised regarding the new powers, such as their “undemocratic” nature. The motion passed by a vote of 11-1, with Mayor Paterson the lone vote against.
According to the release, Mayor Paterson’s first mayoral decision under this new legislation is to return the following powers back to Council and the CAO of the City, effective Wednesday, Jul. 12, 2023:
- The power of the Mayor to determine the organizational structure of the City is delegated to the Chief Administrative Officer.
- The power of the Mayor to appoint and dismiss the Chief Administrative Officer is delegated to City Council.
- The power of the Mayor to appoint and dismiss a head of any division or the head of any other part of the organizational structure is delegated to the Chief Administrative Officer.
- The power of the Mayor to establish or dissolve committees that consist solely of members of City Council, to appoint chairs and vice-chairs of those committees, and to assign functions to those committees is delegated to City Council.
“Our current structure of decision-making and oversight for the City is working,” said Mayor Paterson. “We have a professional, talented Council and staff team who are committed to addressing the challenges we face on housing, mental health and addictions and keeping life affordable—it only makes sense that much of this new authority go back to where it’s best used. I have no interest in politicizing the roles of staff and I look forward to continuing to work with my Council colleagues to tackle these tough issues.”
Details of mayoral decisions will be available on Open Data Kingston within 24 hours of signing, according to the City of Kingston, and additional information regarding strong mayor powers can be found at www.CityofKingston.ca/city-hall/city-council/strong-mayor-powers.