Newsletter Signup

Burlington Mayor’s Statement on Democracy & Governance at City Hall

Recent provincial legislation assigns additional "strong mayor" responsibilities and duties exclusively to the Mayor. This represents a change from what we are used to. The Mayor has always had unique roles and responsibilities under the Municipal Act, even before the new legislation. The Mayor is the “Head of Council” and “CEO” of the corporation, and the only one elected across the city. Council still advances the business of the city by motion and majority vote. That hasn’t changed.
Mayors Statement on Democracy and Governance - TW

*Please see below a Statement from Burlington Mayor Meed Ward on Democracy & Governance at City Hall and a related Letter to the Editor published in the Hamilton Spectator.

I welcome any conversation about democracy, governance and how council can continue to work together in a collaborative and consultative way.

I welcome Council to make any requests of me they feel are important, and support Council in making this request. That is why I voted in favour of the motion that was approved unanimously by Council today. I will take the time to give it the thoughtful consideration it deserves. Council has requested I respond by the April 16 Council meeting, which I will do.

It is truly unfortunate there has been misinformation, speculation, rumour and fear mongering out in the community. I will do my best to focus on the facts — what has changed and what hasn’t.

Council was briefed on the new powers in July 2023 (click here), including the ability to delegate some of them.

We have been governing together in this new context for eight months now.

Council still advances the business of the city by motion and majority vote. That hasn’t changed. You will see that at every committee and council meeting. Our democratic process remains strong — in fact, this year to date, Council has unanimously approved 61 motions at our meetings including this one today.

Transparency and accountability haven’t changed. All Mayoral Decisions are posted on the city’s website – that is required by legislation. Please read them to see what has been done, not what rumour, speculation or implication would suggest. There have been 17 in total, to date — the majority of which were required to approve decisions made at Council. This will continue to be required, so you will continue to see these. Here is the full list:

  • To appoint a City Manager (Council was included in the process);
  • To approve bylaws at the Dec. 12, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • Confidential 9;
  • To approve bylaws at the Jan. 16, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • To approve bylaws at the Dec. 12, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • To shorten the 10-day period for Mayoral Veto of amendments to the budget (there was no veto exercised; budget approved by council);
  • To approve bylaws at the Nov. 28, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • To approve bylaws at the Nov. 14, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • To approve bylaws at the Nov. 2, 2023 Council (action’s council’s decisions);
  • To establish standing committee chairs;
  • To establish committee structure options (voted on by council);
  • To approve bylaws at the Oct 17, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • To approve bylaws at the Oct.5, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • To approve bylaws at the Sept. 26, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions);
  • Direction to draft the 2024 Budget (required under provincial legislation);
  • To approve bylaws at the Sept. 14, 2023 Council (actions council’s decisions); and
  • To approve bylaws at the July 11, 2023 Council (action’s council’s decisions).

City Hall’s structure hasn’t changed. The City Manager is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the city, by bylaw. Staff report to the City Manager, and the City Manager reports through committee and council.

The Mayor has always had unique roles and responsibilities under the Municipal Act, even before the new legislation. The Mayor is the “Head of Council” and “CEO” of the corporation, and the only one elected across the city. That hasn’t changed.

The recent legislation assigns additional responsibilities and duties exclusively to the Mayor. This represents a change from what we are used to.

Some of these can be delegated. It has struck me as being politically performative to delegate, as these can also be undelegated at any time. It seems to me to be more transparent and accountable to openly acknowledge the powers and duties are there and determine how we will continue to govern in a collaborative, democratic way in this new context. I believe Council has been doing that over the past 8 months in this new context, and I have no concerns we will continue to do that.

Most of these new duties cannot be delegated. They are not optional, nor was there an ability to “opt out.” Municipalities who accepted a housing pledge – that Burlington Council unanimously did in March 2023 – got them in July 2023. We accepted the pledge for all the right reasons; we did not know the Province’s strong mayor powers would be tied to the pledge. You can read my statement on the legislation when it was first introduced here: Statement from Burlington Mayor Meed Ward on Province Expanding Strong Mayor Powers to Additional Municipalities.

Each Mayor has responded based on their determination of what’s best for their community, some have delegated all, some none, and some partial, but in doing so provided additional guidelines. I will take the time to be equally thoughtful.

Though some duties can be offloaded by delegation, accountability cannot be offloaded.

I am accountable to the city and the people of Burlington to fulfill the roles assigned to me. We all are accountable – not just every four years at the ballot box, but every single day we hold these roles. Our community will be the judge of how we work together to fulfill our responsibilities in this new context.

My track record of collaboration is clear, and my focus remains on serving in the best interests of our community – building a strong city together with a high quality of life for our residents for the next seven generations.

RELATED LINKS:

Receive new post notifications by email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Here are guidelines before you comment, and our expectations before we will post:

  • Be civil. Would you speak this way to a good friend? If not, rewrite.
  • Focus on the issues. Build your argument and make your case in support of your opinion from facts, research or other sources. That way we can all learn. “I disagree with so-and-so because…” is fine; “So-and-so is naïve/stupid  for thinking the way he/she does and here’s why…” is not acceptable.
  • Don’t make personal attacks. Don’t assume motives of those you disagree with, make unfounded allegations, spread rumours, or engage in any other behaviours that would discourage you from participating if someone said this to, or about, you. The Golden Rule applies: Do unto others as you would have done to you. We will edit or not post comments with this type of content.
  • Say it once: When comments from the same individual or individuals become repetitive, going over ground already stated, we reserve the right to close commenting.
  • Use your full, and real, name. If wish to make a comment in public, we expect you will publicly stand behind it with your name. If you don’t want to publicly reveal your name, that’s fine; you are always welcome to share your thoughts with me privately via my email below. I welcome and consider all feedback in making decisions for the community.
  • Have fun, consider and learn. Share your views and read those of others. May we all benefit from a healthy exchange of ideas, and learn a little more about the people in our community, what you think, and what’s important to each of you. You may end up changing your mind about an issue; even if you don’t, we hope everyone will gain a greater understanding of why people have different perspectives.
Picture of Administrator

Administrator

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

Newsletter Sign Up

Phone: 905-335-7777
Email:  mayor@burlington.ca