3. Ottawa legislative review:
new city of ottawa act
Committee recommendations AS AMENDED
That City Council:
1. Endorse the proposed regulatory and statutory amendments set out in Documents 1 and 2 of this report, as amended by the following;
a. That consistent with the position advocated by the Toronto Board of Trade’s report “Setting the Course for a Strong Toronto” Committee and Council recommends that the Province should upload the cost of Ottawa’s social housing and social services and/or transit programs, and provide annual assistance or share sales tax room until uploading is complete.
b. That Item 19, with respect to Conservation Authorities be deleted from the proposed regulatory and statutory amendments set out in Documents 1 and 2 of this report.
c. Add the words “for the Council to have the option” after the word “authority” and before the word “to” in Section 11 of Document 1 – B Statutory Proposals in both the Amendment Column and Rationale and 20/20 Principles Column.
d. WHEREAS the use of plastic bags has become a major environmental concern;
AND WHEREAS presently there is not a market that could make the recycling of plastic bags economically possible;
AND WHEREAS the province has chosen not to give municipalities a “sphere of jurisdiction” over environmental matters under S.11 of the Municipal Act;
AND WHEREAS “waste management” is a listed “sphere of jurisdiction” for municipalities under S.11 of the Municipal Act placing a significant burden on municipalities relating to the disposal of plastic bags;
AND WHEREAS the use of plastic bags by retailers should be restricted.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the province be requested to give the City of Ottawa the authority to regulate the use of plastic bags by retailers including the authority to prohibit their use; and.
2. Direct that the Mayor and City Manager continue their efforts in attaining these reforms to the City’s legislative framework from the Provincial Government.
Recommandations MODIFIée du Comité
Que le Conseil municipal :
1. avalise les amendments réglementaire et législatif présentés dans le Document 1 et 2 de ce rapport, sous réserve des modifications suivantes :
a. Que, conformément à la position préconisée dans le rapport intitulé Setting the Course for a Strong Toronto, produit par la chambre de commerce de Toronto, le Comité et le Conseil recommandent au gouvernement provincial d’assumer le coût du logement social, des services sociaux et (ou) du transport en commun à Ottawa, et de consentir à la Ville une aide annuelle ou une partie de la taxe de vente d’ici à ce que cette prise en charge soit complétée.
b. Que la question 19, portant sur les offices de protection de la nature, soit supprimée de la liste des modifications réglementaires proposées dans les documents 1 et 2 du présent rapport.
c. Ajouter les mots « for the Council to have the option » après le mot « authority » et avant le mot « to » à la section 11 du Document 1 – B Staturory Proposals (propositions réglementaires), à la colonne « Amendment » (modifications) ainsi qu’à la colonne « Rationale and 20/20 Principles » (raison d’être et principes 20/20).
d. ATTENDU QUE l’utilisation de sacs en plastique est devenue une importante source de préoccupation sur le plan environnemental;
ATTENDU QU’il n’existe pas de marché pour le recyclage des sacs en plastique actuellement;
ATTENDU QUE le gouvernement provincial a choisi de ne pas attribuer de compétence aux municipalités en matière d’environnement aux termes de l’article 11 de la Loi sur les municipalités;
ATTENDU QUE la « gestion des déchets » est l’un des domaines de compétence attribués aux municipalités aux termes de la l’article 11 de la Loi sur les municipalités, ce qui constitue pour elles un fardeau important par rapport à l’élimination des sacs en plastique;
ATTENDU QU’il conviendrait de limiter l’utilisation de sacs en plastique par les détaillants;
IL EST PAR CONSÉQUENT RÉSOLU de demander au gouvernement provincial d’accorder à la Ville d’Ottawa le pouvoir de réglementer l’utilisation des sacs en plastique par les détaillants, y compris le pouvoir d’en interdire l’utilisation.
2. demande au maire et le directeur municipal à continuet leurs efforts à obtenir les reformes du cadre législatif de la ville du government provincial.
1. Chief Corporate Services Officer's report dated 28 June 2005 (ACS2005-CRS-SEC-0037).
2. Extract of Draft Minute, 05 July 2005 will be distributed prior to Council.
That the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee recommend that City Council:
1. Endorse the proposed regulatory and statutory amendments set out in Documents 1 and 2 of this report; and
2. Direct that the Mayor and City Manager continue their efforts in attaining these reforms to the City’s legislative framework from the Provincial Government.
RECOMMANDATIONS DU RAPPORT
Que le Comité des services organisationnels et du dévéloppement économique recommande que le Conseil municipal:
les amendments réglementaire
et législati f
présentés dans le Document 1 et 2 de ce rapport;
au maire et le directeur municipal à continuet leurs efforts à obtenir les reformes du cadre législatif de la
ville du government provincial.
Assumptions and Analysis:
On November 10, 2004, City Council directed the Mayor and staff to obtain from the Province a commitment to establish a process for drafting a new City of Ottawa Act. This direction was made in light of the legislative reviews of both the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 1997. The City of Ottawa received confirmation of this request from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on December 14, 2004, who recommended that City administration consult with Ministry staff to address the details of the review. In January 2005, the Mayor and the City Manager met with the Minister to begin implementing the City’s request. Since that time, the City’s administration has been working with Ministry staff to address the details of this review, share information, and establish the working principles for any new legislative proposals that would result in a revised City of Ottawa Act.
Over the last decade, federal and provincial levels of government have continued to download responsibilities to municipalities, without providing them with the appropriate funding or the fiscal tools needed to generate revenue. Downloading costs have added an additional $63 million to the City’s budget since 1998. The City of Ottawa’s financial pressures are echoed in various City documents including the Long-Range Financial Plan (LRFP). In particular, the LRFP cautions that unless stable, long-term funding is secured, and until the City is given appropriate authority and financial tools, severe limitations will exist on its ability to manage growth. One of the objectives of a new City of Ottawa Act is to develop new or enhanced powers that will provide the City with the tools necessary to better address its operating requirements, as well as its financial needs.
Presently, it is expected that a new City of Ottawa Act would include the following three components:
1. The removal of various provision in the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 which are no longer relevant (i.e. authority of a transition board);
2. The consolidation of private or special legislation from former municipalities that remain relevant to the present City of Ottawa; and
3. The addition of any new powers different from those set out in the Municipal Act, 2001 that the City is seeking over and above those currently provided in the City of Ottawa Act, 1999.
In addition to the statutory proposals to amend the Municipal Act, 2001 that were endorsed by City Council in November 2004, senior staff from all departments have compiled a list of proposed regulatory and statutory amendments to Ottawa’s enabling legislation, which reflects both the current operational and fiscal needs of the City. It is anticipated that the proposed amendments would be introduced in the Legislature by the end of this year and may be implemented by spring 2006.
However, in light of the City’s current budget pressures, staff have assembled selected proposals that could be implemented by year’s end. Selected regulatory proposals are identified as those of an urgent nature to the City and of little or no cost to the Province that can be implemented through changes to existing Provincial Regulations. Statutory proposals have been selected to provide Council the ability to mitigate further property tax increases in the 2006 Budget and will require formal approval by the Provincial Legislature as amendments to the City of Ottawa Act or the Municipal Act, 2001.
The approval and implementation of the selected regulatory and statutory proposals could provide additional budget relief of approximately $20 million for 2006, which equates to a 2.5% property tax increase for the City.
The recommendations set out in Document 1 and 2 of this report have been assembled by many members of the City’s senior management. Upon release of the report, public input will be received through the standard methods (i.e. letters, faxes, e-mails, etc.) as well as via a special e-mail address located under the “Public Consultation” heading on the City’s website. All feedback will be forwarded to all Members of Council prior to Council’s deliberation of this report.
Hypothèses et analyse :
Le 10 novembre 2004, le Conseil municipal a donné instruction au maire et au personnel d’obtenir du gouvernement provincial l’engagement à établir un processus en vue de l’élaboration d’une nouvelle version de la Loi sur la Ville d’Ottawa. Cette directive découlait de l’examen législatif de la Loi de 2001 sur les municipalités et de la Loi de 1997 sur la cité de Toronto. La Ville d’Ottawa a reçu confirmation de cette demande de la part du ministre des Affaires municipales et du Logement le 14 décembre 2004. Celui-ci a alors recommandé que l’administration de la Ville consulte le personnel du Ministère au sujet des modalités de l’examen. En janvier 2005, le maire et le directeur municipal ont eu une rencontre afin de donner suite à la demande de la Ville. Depuis, l’administration municipale collabore avec le personnel du Ministère afin de déterminer les modalités de l’examen, de partager des renseignements et d’établir les principes de travail de nouvelles propositions législatives qui se traduiraient par revision de la Loi sur la Ville d’Ottawa.
Au cours de la dernière décennie, les
gouvernements fédéral et provincial ont continué de transférer des
responsabilités aux municipalités sans leur fournir un financement approprié ni
les instruments nécessaires pour engendrer des recettes.
transfert de responsabilités a additionné
millions additionnel dessus au budget de la Ville depuis 1998. Les pressions financières qui
s’exercent sur la Ville d’Ottawa trouvent leur expression dans différents
documents municipaux, dont le Plan financier à long terme (PFLT). Ce dernier
renferme d’ailleurs une mise en garde, à savoir que, à défaut d’un financement
stable et à long terme et tant que la Ville ne bénéficiera pas de pouvoirs et
d’instruments financiers appropriés, sa capacité de gérer la croissance sera
gravement limitée. L’un des objectifs de la nouvelle Loi sur la Ville
d’Ottawa sera d’établir des pouvoirs nouveaux ou améliorés qui donneront à
la Ville les outils dont elle a besoin pour mieux satisfaire à ses exigences
opérationnelles et à ses besoins financiers.
nouvelle Loi sur la Ville d’Ottawa serait
censée comporter les trois éléments
1. Révocation de diverses dispositions de la Loi de 1999 sur la Ville d’Ottawa qui ne sont plus pertinentes (comme celles portant sur les pouvoirs du conseil de transition);
2. Regroupement des lois spéciales et d’intérêt privé relatives aux anciennes municipalités qui demeurent pertinentes pour la nouvelle Ville d’Ottawa;
3. Ajout de pouvoirs différents de ceux énoncés dans la Loi de 2001 sur les municipalités que la Ville cherche à obtenir, en plus de ceux déjà prévus dans la Loi de 1999 sur la Ville d’Ottawa.
les propositions législatives visant
à modifier la Loi de 2001 sur les municipalités auxquelles le Conseil
municipal a donné son aval en novembre 2004, les
hauts responsables des différents services ont dressé une liste de
modifications réglementaires et législatives à la loi d’habilitation
régissant la Ville qui tiennent compte des besoins opérationnels et financiers de cette dernière. On s’attend à ce que les modifications proposées soient déposées à l’Assemblée
à la fin de l’année et qu’elles puissent être mises en œuvre d’ici
au printemps de
Toutefois, compte tenu des contraintes
budgétaires auxquelles la Ville est confrontée, le personnel a formulé un
certain nombre de propositions qui pourraient être appliquées d’ici à la fin de
l’année. Certaines des propositions d’ordre réglementaire considérées comme
urgentes par la Ville et qui ne comportent peu ou pas de côut pour le gouvernement
provincial peuvent être assurées au moyen de modifications à la réglementation
provinciale existante. Les propositions d’ordre législatif ont pour but de
donner au Conseil la possibilité d’atténuer les augmentations
de taxes foncières dans le budget de 2006. Elles nécessiteront
l’approbation formelle de l’Assemblée législative, par le
biais de modifications à la Loi sur
la Ville d’Ottawa.
Répercussions financières :
L’approbation et la mise en oeuvre des propositions de nature réglementaire et législative pourraient assurer un répit budgétaire supplémentaire à la Ville pour 2006. Il s’agirait en l’occurrence d’un montant approximatif de 20 millions de dollars, somme qui équivaut à une augmentation de taxes foncières de 2,5 p. 100.
Les recommandations formulées dans les
documents 1 et 2 du présent rapport sont le
fruit des efforts de nombreux
supérieurs de la Ville. Une fois le
la Ville recueillera l’opinion de la population par la
mode habituelle ( e.g. lettres, télécopies, courels, etc.) aussi
bien par l’intermédiare
couriel spécial situé
sous le titre « publique
de consultation » sur
la site Web de la Ville. Les
communiqués à l’ensemble des membres du Conseil avant que celui-ci ne
débatte du rapport.
The phrase a “New Deal” for municipalities was among the latest buzzwords to enter the municipal lexicon over the last few years. In effect, it became the watchword employed by local government advocates seeking a new relationship for municipalities with respect to both the federal and provincial orders of government. This was especially true of the larger cities across Canada. The purpose of this report is to examine what a “New Deal” may ultimately mean for the City of Ottawa in the coming months and years as it relates to the development of its own legislative framework and the power-sharing arrangement that it has with the Province of Ontario. However, prior to considering any legislative proposals surrounding a “New Deal” for Ottawa, it is crucial to appreciate just what the so-called “Old Deal” was for all municipalities, not only in Ontario but in most other provinces, as well.
(1) The “Old Deal”
In 1849, Upper Canada (now Ontario) enacted the first comprehensive legislation that repealed dozens of statutes related to various local government functions in favour of a single, consolidated Municipal Act. Known as the Baldwin Act, this statute not only established villages, towns and cities, but also the legislative parameters within which they could operate. However, with the advent of Canada’s confederation in 1867, municipalities failed to obtain constitutional recognition as a distinct order of government. In fact, unlike their federal and provincial counterparts, municipalities were not even mentioned in the Constitution Act, 1867, except at Subsection 92(8), where they were placed under each Provincial Legislatures’ “exclusive” jurisdiction. In legal terms, municipalities were subordinate entities created by provincial statute. As such, the authority for a municipal council to both exist and act was not local in nature but rather was derived from the Provincial Legislature.
In the century and a half that followed its enactment, Ontario’s Municipal Act was amended on countless occasions. The numerous deletions, revisions and additions to the statute were often made in a piecemeal fashion meant to address the most pressing local issue of the day. Furthermore, when municipalities were challenged with respect to their authority to act in a particular instance, the courts developed a long line of jurisprudence that served to reinforce the image of municipalities as “creatures of provincial statute.” Subsequently known as Dillon’s Rule, this legal principle generally held that any valid exercise of municipal authority had to be founded on a power that was expressly delegated in a provincial statute. Therefore, in order for a municipal council in Ontario to enact a valid by-law that the courts would uphold, they had to be able to identify the power relied upon somewhere in the Municipal Act, the Planning Act or another similar provincial statute. As recently as 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada, in R. v. Greenbaum, reiterated this principle with respect to the municipal-provincial power-sharing arrangement in the following terse fashion:
Municipalities are entirely creatures of provincial statute. Accordingly, they can exercise only those powers which are explicitly conferred upon them by provincial statute.
This restrictive approach to the governing statutes for municipalities has been referred to as the “laundry list” legislation. In essence, the enabling legislation spells out every power that a municipality may exercise. In the absence of an express power (or its necessary implication), a municipality cannot take action. Furthermore, each time a municipality sought an additional power, it would have to apply to the Province to have its enabling legislation amended. In Ontario, these events contributed to the ad hoc development of the Municipal Act as an omnibus statute of 19th century origins that was too lengthy, complex, inflexible and prescriptive to assist municipalities to operate effectively and efficiently in the 21st century.
(2) Towards a “New Deal”
Over the last decade, local governments across Canada were often given new functions and responsibilities without a corresponding set of resources and powers sufficient to meet these challenges. For example, ambulance services in Ontario had been the responsibility of the Provincial Government since the 1960’s. However, in 1997, the Government of Ontario announced its intention to download the land ambulance function to upper-tier municipalities as part of its local services restructuring initiatives. This timeline was subsequently extended to January 1st, 2001. In 2005 alone, the financial implications of this download for Ottawa constitutes a shortfall of $6.5 million.
In addition to such downloading exercises, it is worth recalling that Ontario is the only Canadian province that requires municipalities to fund significant health and social services programs on a property tax base. While the Provincial Government controls and mandates a great number of social and health programs, it continues to require that costs of these programs be shared by municipalities and funded through property taxes. These programs include public health, employment and financial assistance, childcare and social housing. In response to such challenges, calls for municipal reform arose from a diverse array of sources and have echoed from one end of the country to the other. This section will briefly describe the evolution of this trend beginning with several significant municipal law decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada. Next, it will summarize a number of important reports from various sources that advocated a “New Deal” for Canadian municipalities, often by emphasizing an urban agenda. Finally, this section will identify the corresponding legislative changes that were introduced in Ontario to counter these calls for municipal reform.
(a) Supreme Court Decisions:
As previously noted, the primacy of Dillon’s Rule meant that courts in Canada tended to have little sympathy for municipal councils in cases that challenged their ability to enact certain by-laws or resolutions. A clear example of this judicial approach can be found in the majority opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1994 case, Shell Canada Products Ltd. v. Vancouver (City). The legal question to be determined in that case was whether or not the council of the City of Vancouver had the necessary statutory authority to pass resolutions which would prohibit it from doing business with an international company having commercial interests in South Africa’s apartheid regime of the day. In a narrow 5-4 decision, the majority opinion relied on the traditional judicial approach and found that the municipality had no express or implied statutory authority to pass the resolutions in question. However, in a strongly worded dissent, Madame Justice McLachlin (now Chief Justice) advocated for a more deferential approach when reviewing the decisions of municipal councils. The dissenting opinion went on to suggest that “a generous approach to municipal powers is arguably more in keeping with the true nature of modern municipalities.” In 2000, the Supreme Court of Canada had another opportunity to consider the judicial method in reviewing the decisions of municipal councils when the British Columbia Court of Appeal quashed two council resolutions which declared the respondent company’s pile of soil a nuisance. In its decision in Nanaimo (City) v. Rascal Trucking Ltd., the Court’s minority view in the Shell Canada case became the current state of the law in Canada. In upholding the resolutions of the municipal council in that instance, the Court found as follows:
The fact that municipal councils are elected representatives of their community, and accountable to their constituents, is relevant in scrutinizing intra vires decisions. The reality that municipalities often balance complex and divergent interests in arriving at decisions in the public interest is of similar importance. In short, these considerations warrant that the intra vires decisions of municipalities be reviewed upon a deferential standard.
In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada revisited this issue in its seminal decision involving the Town of Hudson, Quebec. In upholding the municipality’s pesticide by-law, the Supreme Court quoted, with approval, Madam Justice McLachlin’s earlier dissenting opinion in the Shell Canada case and found that courts should take a broad approach to the interpretation of the general, municipal powers in order to ensure that local governments have the flexibility, “to deal with the unforeseen or changing circumstances, and to address emerging or changing issues” within their communities. One year later, in another Supreme Court of Canada decision involving the Village of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Mr. Justice LeBel, on behalf of the unanimous Supreme Court, repeated the Court’s increasingly familiar refrain with respect to showing judicial deference to the decisions of municipal councils:
This Court has often reiterated the social and political importance of local governments. It has stressed that their powers must be given a generous interpretation because their closeness to the members of the public who live and work on their territory make them more sensitive to the problems experienced by those individuals.
Finally, in a 2004 decision involving the Supreme Court of Canada’s first consideration of a reformed municipal statute, the Court considered whether or not a by-law regulating the local taxi industry in Calgary, Alberta, was valid. In a short decision that upheld the municipality’s actions, a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada found that, “the evolution of the modern municipality has produced a shift in the proper approach to the interpretation of statutes empowering municipalities.” In effect, the old, narrow approach under Dillon’s Rule had been set aside in favour of “a broad and purposive approach to the interpretation of municipal powers.” In fact, the Court recognized that the recent “shift in legislative drafting reflects the true nature of modern municipalities which require greater flexibility in fulfilling their statutory purposes.”
(b) A National Debate:
Aside from those local government associations (i.e. the Federation of Canadian Municipalities [“FCM”] at the federal level and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario [“AMO”] at the provincial level) whose mandates include representing local governments and advocating for increased municipal reforms on behalf of their members, there has developed a growing body of research that has elevated the discussion about the inadequate relationship between municipalities and the other orders of government in Canada from a local government monologue to a national debate. This section will identify and summarize several influential reports (one from the private sector and the two other levels of government) which focus on what is sometimes referred to as the “urban agenda,” as well as others that reference the small business perspective in this debate. Copies of all of the documents cited below are on file in the City Clerk’s Office.
In April 2002, TD Economics produced a special report entitled, “A Choice Between Investing in Canada’s Cities or Disinvesting in Canada’s Future” which represented a culmination of the group’s study of Canadian cities. In a section called, “Long on Urban Challenges, Short on Funds,” the study advocated in favour of “a new way of thinking…one that puts the affairs of cities front and center on Canada’s economic and policy radar screens.” The report outlined the situation for urban communities in the following stark terms:
In many cities, the infrastructure is eroding. Social housing, water systems, sewers, roads and public transit systems all require re-investment, but cash-strapped municipalities are in no position to deliver. Between 1995 and 2001, local government revenues edged up by only 14% - a fraction of the gains of 38% and 30% reaped at the federal and provincial levels. This has left cities singularly ill equipped to cope with the responsibilities being downloaded to them.
In summary, the report noted that municipalities across Canada need to undertake certain remedies within their existing mandates. However, it also recognized that, “in some cases, cities lack the authority to reform property taxes or to apply user fees and development charges in ways they see fit.” While suggesting that such “municipal reforms will not negate the need for Canadian cities to gain access to new funding sources,” the report also advocated that the risks of a higher tax burden must be mitigated in ways that include “federal and provincial governments [committing] to reducing taxes to create room for municipalities – in effect, providing a point transfer.” Finally, the report stated that governments can encourage increased private sector involvement in municipal initiatives by creating opportunities for businesses to earn commercial rates of return on public/private projects.
In November 2002, the Prime Minister’s Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues released its final report, entitled “Canada’s Urban Strategy – A Blueprint for Action.” Briefly, the report reiterated the recognition in the 2002 Federal Speech from the Throne that “competitive cities and healthy communities are vital to our individual and national well-being.” In addition, it found that these entities “require new partnerships, a new urban strategy, a new approach to healthy communities for the 21st century” and sought to delineate how such an “enhanced relationship” between the Federal Government and various urban partners, including both provincial and municipal governments among others, could be achieved. Conceding that “urban problems and challenges require locally-made solutions,” Canada’s “urban strategy” went on to identify the following key elements to success: coordination and integration; collaboration and consultation; and the fact that various programs and projects should adhere to established federal objectives that would advance urban revitalization.
In the aftermath of this report, both the February and the October 2004 Federal Speeches from the Throne referenced the Government of Canada’s commitment to “a New Deal for Canada’s municipalities.” In 2005, the Prime Minister announced $5 billion in new, stable funds to be provided over five years through the sharing of federal gas tax revenue with municipalities. These funds were said to be in addition to the Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) rebate announced in the 2004 federal budget, which is estimated to provide municipalities with $7 billion over a ten-year period.
Finally, reference may be had to a lesser known study released by the Ontario Government in April 2003. Prepared by the Associate Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Urban Affairs, the report, “2003 and Beyond: A Smart Approach for Ontario’s Urban Centres,” was the culmination of urban forums held in seven cities (including Ottawa), in an effort “to better understand the needs of [Ontario’s] urban centres.” At the outset, the Associate Minister was candid in her assessment that, in addressing the needs of its respective municipalities, the Province of Ontario should be mindful of each community’s own distinct character:
From what I heard across the Province, no two cities are alike – they are all unique. Consequently, just like our five Smart Growth panels, we must be mindful that solutions need to be sufficiently tailored to address the needs of different areas and that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.
After referencing the fact that “a number of municipal stakeholders and experts were beginning to register their concerns through reports, studies and important conferences,” including the TD Economics study and the results of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Urban Issues, the Associate Minister’s report sets out a number of “common themes that the Provincial Government would need to examine in order to ensure the long-term success of urban centres in Ontario”:
§ Ontario’s urban centres want the assurance of long-term funding to support infrastructure;
§ Ontario’s urban centres need sustainable sources of revenue; and
§ Effective coordination is needed in order to deliver critical services in an efficient manner.
In recognition of the fact that many of the stakeholders acknowledged that “a great deal of time and effort has gone into discussing urban issues, but these discussions have resulted in little change,” the Associate Minister’s report observed that “there were strong sentiments expressed, that this be a priority issue warranting immediate action.”
Although the fall of 2003 resulted in a change of government, the November 20th Speech from the Throne had a section entitled, “Growing Strong Communities.” In this portion, the new Provincial Government pledged that it would “strengthen our communities and work with other governments to create a new deal for cities.” To that end, the Provincial Government has undertaken a number of initiatives, including: dedicating a one cent per litre share of the gas tax in the 2004 budget; executing an extension to the 2001 Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with AMO; and, enacting Bill 92, which amended the Municipal Act, 2001 thereby statutorily mandating that “the Province shall consult with municipalities” in accordance with the MOU.
Even though the above-noted reports provide a snapshot of various opinions with regard to a proposed “New Deal” for municipalities, it is important to note that this is merely a summary and is by no means meant to constitute a comprehensive review of the available and growing literature on this subject matter. In addition, it is important to realize that, while this national debate continues, there are points of view that are in opposition to those expressed in the above-noted paragraphs. For example, in a press release issued on February 25, 2004, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (“CFIB”) described the small business perspective on a “New Deal” for municipalities with John Godfrey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, with special emphasis on cities. The CFIB news release indicated that, “from the standpoint of small businesses, some basic principles ought to underpin the New Deal for all municipalities, large and small,” including the following:
On May 27, 2004, the CFIB released a subsequent report that outlined “what Canada’s small business community is looking for in any ‘New Deal’ for municipalities.” Entitled, “The Real Deal on Municipalities,” the report is based on a CFIB survey of 7,649 members. Briefly, the news release that accompanied the report stated that the “results show a clear and consistent pattern, in that the majority of small business owners believe that the federal and provincial governments should transfer additional resources to local governments, but that any deal must have strict conditions attached and that provincial governments must retain overall responsibility for local governments.”
(c) New Municipal Legislation:
Throughout the 1990’s, various types of municipal legislative initiatives were first introduced in a number of western provinces, including Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia. One of the key reform themes was a concerted movement away from the “Old Deal’s” prescriptive, “laundry list” approach of specifically defining all of municipal powers towards a broader method that sought to provide municipalities with greater flexibility and autonomy within their local jurisdiction. In continuing this trend of statutory reform, the Province of Ontario enacted a revised Municipal Act, 2001, which subsequently came into effect on January 1st, 2003. Seeking to provide municipalities in Ontario with greater flexibility and increased autonomy on local matters, the Municipal Act, 2001 set out the general powers of municipalities through new, “natural person powers”, as well as ten “spheres of jurisdiction,” including: transportation systems; waste management; and public utilities.
Since its introduction, some local government associations, as well as municipal experts and observers began to question whether or not the new legislation would prove to be the antidote required by the municipalities to respond to the challenges of the new millennium. Whereas many of the provisions in the Municipal Act, 2001 were remarkably similar to the restrictions found in the predecessor legislation, concerns were expressed about the effectiveness of these new powers. For example, despite the fanfare in the municipal sector and the Ministry press releases that announced the introduction of the natural person powers, at least one solicitor from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing subsequently conceded that “natural person powers were oversold in earlier consultation drafts.” He went on to observe that “many expected these powers would allow municipalities to do anything you or I could do. This is simply not the case.” With respect to the ten spheres of jurisdiction, another municipal solicitor similarly observed that, while the “granting of municipal authority through broad spheres of jurisdiction signals a movement towards a model of local government that has greater autonomy, latitude and flexibility,” the multitude of restrictions, limitations and controls placed upon the use of the permissive powers decreases the proposed flexibility of the spheres.” In summary, he concluded that “the theoretical elasticity of powers under the spheres of jurisdiction may be further constricted by regulations that have yet to be issued.”
(1) Current Legislative Reviews:
In order to better understand the broader context within which the City of Ottawa Act is to be examined, it is important to acknowledge the various other legislative reviews that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is currently conducting and to appreciate the possible links between each.
In June 2004, the Honourable John Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that the Province would initiate its first review of the Municipal Act, 2001 during the summer and fall of 2004, with the intent of introducing draft legislation in the spring of 2005. The Minister stated that the “review is intended to identify the legislative amendments that can provide local governments with more tools and greater flexibility to creatively serve their residents.” The review will include input from stakeholders within both the municipal and business sectors and is scheduled to involve the following three stages:
Phase I – Collection and cataloguing of requests for amendments to the Act;
Phase II – Meetings and working groups of municipal and business stakeholders; analysis of requests for amendments; and development of recommendations for Minister’s consideration; and
Phase III – Legislative phase with the intent of introducing legislation.
On September 17th, 2004, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor, David Miller officially launched a joint provincial-municipal review of the City of Toronto Act, 1997. Shortly thereafter, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released the final Terms of Reference for the Joint Ontario-City of Toronto Task Force (“Joint Task Force” or “JTF”). The purpose of the JTF is to review and recommend changes to the City of Toronto Act, 1997 and other private legislation in order to “provide Toronto with an enabling legislative framework commensurate with Toronto’s responsibilities, size, and significance to Ontario.” The related objective is to make Toronto a more fiscally sustainable, autonomous and accountable government. On May 18th, 2005, the Province and the City released a Staff Progress Report of the Joint Ontario – City of Toronto Task Force detailing the efforts to date that officials from the Province and the City of Toronto had made in developing recommendations for a new legislative framework for the City. Minister John Gerretsen affirmed that the Province is “committed to giving the economic driver of the province the tools to determine and manage its own future and prosperity”. According to the Staff Progress Report, a modernized City of Toronto Act would provide Toronto with:
§ Broad permissive governmental powers within the City’s boundaries and with respect to “city purposes”;
§ Natural Person Powers providing flexibility to legislate, raise revenue, and organize itself to provide local services and good government;
§ Enhanced authority over matters not covered by the general powers granted to the City; and
§ Exclusion from specific policy domains and provincial legislation.
The report also outlined specific policy options that may be relevant to a number of issues raised within the context of the ongoing review of the Municipal Act, 2001, including:
§ The authority to implement “inclusionary-zoning” requirements to ensure that new developments include a percentage of affordable housing units;
§ The authority to appoint an Integrity Commissioner with the powers necessary to perform his/her duties; and
§ The authority to establish a lobbyist registry.
In response to the Staff Progress Report, the CFIB issued a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on June 1, 2005. This correspondence set out seven specific objections to the JTF report, including the fact that “the report makes no attempt to justify the City’s need for ‘broad permissive regulatory powers’.” In addition, the CFIB concluded that “any regulatory reform must be based on a set of principles,” including: “(a) it must decrease – not increase – the regulatory overlap and duplication between levels of government; and (b) it must provide for very clear lines of demarcation when more than one level of government regulates in a given area or activity.” The letter concluded by stating, ‘it is our strongly held view that the recommendations pose a serious threat to the economic health of the city” and that they “virtually guarantee that the business sector will come under a financial and regulatory attack.”
Finally, as noted in the JTF Staff Progress Report, there is an expectation that the statutory changes proposed for the City of Toronto Act would be introduced in the fall of 2005.
On November 10th, 2004, City Council approved, as amended, a staff report intended to provide Ottawa’s input into the major suggestions for amendments to the Municipal Act, 2001 as submitted by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (“AMO”), as well as the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (“AMCTO”). In response to the Minister’s review of the Municipal Act, 2001, the AMO Board of Directors released a document entitled “Achieving a Mature Relationship: Review of the Municipal Act, 2001”, which emphasized the need for “a bold vision of municipal government in Ontario – a vision of empowerment and accountability.” The report detailed nine principles for achieving a mature relationship centred on provincial recognition that municipalities are responsible, accountable governments and that the Province must put an end to the micro-management of municipalities. Based on these broad principles, the report recommended eighteen specific amendments to the Municipal Act, 2001. In response to this report, members of the AMCTO submitted further rationale and context for the recommendations as well as other technical amendments. Proposed amendments include: enhanced natural person powers; expanded spheres of jurisdiction; and broader authority to incorporate corporations, among others.
As with the national debate on the “New Deal”, there is no clear consensus from all stakeholders with respect to proposed changes to the Municipal Act, 2001. In the June 2005 issue of Business Matters, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce article, “More tax & spend powers for cities = more costs for business,” once again set out the business sector’s perspectives on municipal reform. After summarizing the legislative reviews of both the City of Toronto’s statute and the Municipal Act, 2001, the article stressed that “giving additional powers to Ontario cities will allow them to increase fees and charges along with added regulations, which will ultimately increase the costs to business.” Furthermore, the article concluded that “any reforms to municipal powers” should adhere to a number of principles, including “no new taxes, fees, charges or regulations” which is based on the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce’s stated belief that “there is enough revenue in the system currently, among the three levels of government.”
Finally, on June 21, 2005, the CFIB issued a press release that advised of a new coalition of business associations in opposition to municipal reform. Called JOBS (Joint Ontario Business Sector), the coalition was formed to persuade the provincial government to “slow down its municipal reform agenda that would see the City of Toronto and other municipalities given broad, sweeping powers to tax and regulate, unconstrained by the province.” In summary, the JOBS coalition has issues with the following four aspects of municipal reform discussions:
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is currently consulting with various stakeholders on these matters and is expected to have a number of amendments to the Municipal Act, 2001 introduced by the fall of 2005.
In addition to commenting on the AMO/AMCTO submissions to the Municipal Act, 2001 Review, Ottawa City Council also considered a proposal to enhance the existing legislative framework of the City of Ottawa Act, 1999. In short, Council not only endorsed the principles and recommendations proposed by AMO and AMCTO as well as additional technical amendments to the Municipal Act, 2001, but also directed the Mayor and staff to obtain a commitment from the Province to establish a process for drafting a new City of Ottawa Act similar to the review of Toronto’s legislative framework. In response to Council’s request for a review of the City of Ottawa Act, 1999, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing acknowledged Ottawa’s interest in reviewing the City’s enabling legislation in a letter dated December 14th, 2004. In January 2005, the Mayor and the City Manager met with the Minister to begin implementing the City’s request. Since that time, the City’s administration has been working with Ministry staff to address the details of this legislative review, share information, and establish the working principles for any new proposals that would result in a revised City of Ottawa Act.
Finally, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is also currently reviewing proposed amendments to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996. These changes could include extending the term of office for municipal councils in Ontario from three to four years and lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age. In February 2005, AMO distributed to its members a “Background Paper and Survey on Municipal Council Term and Related Matters”. The survey contained five, multiple-part questions with respect to amending the term of elected office for municipal councils from three years to four years, as well as a sixth question regarding the possibility of lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age. A report on the AMO survey was brought before the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee on April 5th, 2005 and was subsequently forwarded to Council for its consideration on May 25th, 2005. Although Council was unable to establish a position with respect to the length of the term of office for local governments, it did endorse the position that the voting age for municipal elections remain at age 18. At the next meeting, Council voted against a proposal to ban election campaign contributions from unions and corporate donors. It is anticipated that the Ministry will respond to these election-related matters with some legislative amendments in the fall of 2005.
In light of the above comments, it is important to recall that the timeframe for introducing provincial legislation to amend all of those statutes in time for the 2006-2009 municipal term of office remains the fall of 2005.
(2) City of Ottawa Act, 1999:
In December 1999, the Provincial Government passed Bill 25, also known as the Fewer Municipal Politicians Act, 1999. In the aftermath of four provincial studies prepared by special advisers that examined four regional government systems, Bill 25 enacted five new statutes that established the Towns of Haldimand and Norfolk, as well as the Cities of Greater Sudbury, Hamilton and Ottawa, effective January 1st, 2001. Therefore, the primary purpose of the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 was to incorporate the newly amalgamated City of Ottawa as a single, legal entity. However, when viewed as the municipality’s enabling legislation, there are relatively few substantive provisions found in this particular statute. In fact, almost half of the 38 provisions contained in the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 relate to various transitional matters that are no longer relevant following amalgamation. For example, Sections 19 to 26 set out the powers and authority of a transition board that was statutorily dissolved on January 31st, 2001, while Sections 29 to 33 outline the rules with respect to collective bargaining before January 1st, 2001. As a result, much of the City’s legislative authority continues to reside in two distinct sources: the more than 120 private statutes of the former local governments in Ottawa-Carleton and the Municipal Act, 2001.
With respect to the latter, omnibus statute, it is important to appreciate that, in general, a new City of Ottawa Act would continue to operate in conjunction with a revised Municipal Act. For many operational matters, the City’s primary enabling legislative authority would remain the Municipal Act, 2001. For example, should City Council determine to take action with respect to a parks and recreation matter, the legislative authority would still be found in Subsection 11(1) of the Municipal Act, 2001, Paragraph 5, being the sphere of jurisdiction for “culture, parks, recreation and heritage.”
Nevertheless, the intent of a revised City of Ottawa Act is to provide the City with the necessary tools to be a mature, accountable level of government. As such, it is proposed that an enhanced City of Ottawa Act would include the following three components:
1. The deletion of various provisions in the current City of Ottawa Act, 1999, which are no longer relevant;
2. The inclusion of private or special legislation from former municipalities that remain relevant would then be added to the new City of Ottawa Act while those obsolete private or special Acts would be repealed; and
3. The addition of any new powers different from those set out in the Municipal Act, 2001 that the City is seeking over and above those currently provided in the City of Ottawa Act, 1999.
(3) Ottawa Legislative Review:
(i) Why Ottawa and Why Now?
In a manner similar to the City of Toronto, Ottawa has recently been provided with a unique opportunity – to assist in the preparation and drafting of its own legislative framework. However, seizing this opportunity also begs the following questions: Why Ottawa and why now? In his speech to the Big City Mayors’ Summit on September 17, 2004, the Premier of Ontario summarized the underlying rationale for a joint provincial/municipal review of Toronto’s enabling legislation. Briefly, the Premier emphasized two decisive factors for undertaking that initiative. The first was the fact that with almost 2.5 million residents, the City of Toronto is the most populous municipality in Canada. Secondly, the Premier described the Provincial Capital as, “the engine of economic growth in Ontario and much of Canada.” Although Ottawa has already been given an opportunity to participate in a review of its own enabling legislation, it remains important for the City to be able to demonstrate those unique, local characteristics that combine to make-up Ottawa’s municipal D.N.A.
At first glance, it is unlikely that Ottawa’s ranking as the second most populous municipality in Ontario and fourth in Canada, coupled with its respective economic status in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, are sufficiently unique factors to make the case for enhancing the City’s statutory authority. In seeking to establish Ottawa’s need for legislative change based on its uniqueness, reference must be had to two fundamental documents enacted by City Council: the Ottawa 20/20 – Ottawa’s Growth Management Strategy; and the Long Range Financial Plan. Approved by Council in April 2003, it is clear that Ottawa 20/20 is a framework for managing growth over the next 20 years by protecting and building on the quality of life valued in Ottawa. The seven principles of Ottawa 20/20 were of such significance to the City that staff incorporated them into the working principles of this project. In addition, those principles have been cross-referenced in each of the regulatory or statutory proposals being put forward for the Province’s consideration (see Document 3).
With respect to the Long Range Financial Plan (“LRFP”), it is important to note that this document was originally developed in the face of looming funding gaps during the 2002 Budget process. At that time, Council directed staff to prepare a long-range financial plan to outline the City’s operating and capital needs, as well as to recommend strategies to address the funding gap. The LRFP not only examined the operating and capital needs of the City over a ten year period (2002-2011), but also identified existing funding sources and outlined potential new funding sources, both those under Council’s control and those which may be subject to the decisions of other parties. The City’s first LRFP was approved by Council in October 2002 and included the following financial recommendations:
§ Use of Hydro Ottawa revenue generated from interest and dividends, using stable rate structures;
§ Growth pays for growth – reduce the impact on capital reserve funds by ensuring that development charges are increased to recover as much of development costs as possible; and
§ Given that the City’s property tax base is required to share costs that other provinces do not impose on municipalities (such as social welfare and health), additional tax sources need to be made available by or shared with the provincial and federal governments (i.e. portion of the vehicle registration, portion of the gas tax, and additional provincial and federal funding to support municipal infrastructure).
In addition to the City’s 20/20 principles and its LRFP, it is important to complement these statements by identifying some of the key municipal characteristics that make Ottawa truly unique.
1. The Nation’s Capital:
Throughout 2005, the City of Ottawa is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a municipality. However, in 1857, two years after it was incorporated, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa to be the capital city of the United Province of Canada. In order to establish a strong government presence in the new capital, construction began on the now famous Parliament Buildings in 1860. Completed at a cost of approximately $4.5 million in 1866, their gothic architecture remains a famous landmark. In 1867, the Province of Canada would join New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in a new confederation – the Dominion of Canada – at which time Ottawa was reaffirmed as the capital city of the new country.
In light of its status as the National Capital, the City of Ottawa is host to events that are coordinated by, or initiated from, federal government programs, such as state visits and international conferences. These activities require the City to provide a consistent and cordial presentation, as City Hall is considered by the international community to be the “front door” to this country. Thus, it is important that the City be well positioned to respond adequately to events such as those cited above, in order to maintain its stature and to fulfill its unique obligations as the Nation’s Capital. In addition, Ottawa is the residence and business center for approximately 120 foreign missions. Therefore, the Mayor, City Council and City officials are regularly called upon by these foreign missions to respond to requests for services, to host visits by Ambassadors and delegations, to establish city-to-city relations, to participate in functions designed to profile local and international communities, and to conduct public commemorations, including “key to the city” ceremonies.
2. The N.C.C. and the Greenbelt:
More than half a century before the passage of the Greenbelt Act, 2005, French Architect, Jacques Gréber, first proposed a comprehensive plan of modernization for the National Capital Region. Although the General Report on the Plan for the National Capital (the “Gréber Plan”) included the development of new transportation infrastructure and federal office campuses, it was ultimately famous for its development of the distinctive Greenbelt that surrounds the City of Ottawa. Established in order to beautify the National Capital area, the Greenbelt was also intended to protect rural land from urban sprawl. The Federal Government began acquiring land in 1956 for this unique purpose. The Greenbelt encircles the City of Ottawa from Shirley’s Bay on the west to Green’s Creek on the east, and is comprised of approximately 14,950 hectares of open lands and forests. In 1958, the National Capital Act was adopted by the Federal Government. This statute provided that the National Capital Region was officially defined to include an area of 4,600 square kilometres, bridging both Ontario and Quebec, and establishing a new Crown corporation, the National Capital Commission (“N.C.C.”), as the steward responsible for federal lands and buildings in the Region, including the Greenbelt. Therefore, the City of Ottawa has a shared jurisdiction with respect to various N.C.C. planning matters.
As the Nation’s Capital, the City of Ottawa is geographically linked to the Province of Quebec by the Ottawa River. As such, the City has the second highest rate of bilingualism (French and English) in all of Canada. Recognition of this unique linguistic trait resulted in the passage of Bill 163 in March 2005, which requires that the City’s administration and the provision of services to the public be done pursuant to a Council-approved bilingualism policy. Upon introducing Bill 163, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing stated that this amendment to the City of Ottawa Act recognized “the bilingual character of the city.”
4. A Rural City
With a landmass of approximately 4,662 square kilometres, or 1,800 square miles, the rural area accounts for almost 90% of Ottawa’s land area. Therefore, Ottawa is not only Canada’s largest “rural city”, but also has the largest agricultural economy of any major city in Canada. Furthermore, 90% of Ottawa residents reside in an urban/suburban setting, whereas 10% are rural residents residing in or near approximately 51 villages and hamlets in the rural area. Furthermore, Ottawa remains one of the few, major municipalities that has a standing committee, being the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, dedicated to addressing rural issues. Finally, in January 2005, the Mayor announced that a Rural Summit would be held in October – November 2005 to promote greater understanding between Ottawa’s rural and urban citizens and to identify specific ways in which the City could improve how it delivers municipal services to its rural neighbourhoods.
5. Parliament Hill and Silicon Valley North
With 90% of Canada’s industrial telecommunications research and development conducted here, the City of Ottawa is one of the world’s top five sites for R & D. Sometimes called “Silicon Valley North”, the Ottawa area is home to more than 1,000 companies specializing in advanced technology, employing over 70,000 advanced-technology professionals. Having said that, the Federal Government remains one of the largest employers in the City of Ottawa.
(ii) Working Principles
In accordance with the staff consensus surrounding the working principles for this legislative review, the goal is the introduction of a Bill providing new powers commensurate with the City’s needs which include, but are not limited to, the principles found in the City of Ottawa’s Growth Management Strategy:
(1) A Caring and Inclusive City;
(2) A Creative City – Rich in Heritage, Unique in Identity;
(3) A Green and Environmentally-Sensitive City;
(4) A City of Distinct, Liveable Communities;
(5) An Innovative City where Prosperity is Shared Among All;
(6) A Responsible and Responsive City; and
(7) A Healthy and Active City.
The underlying objective of the City of Ottawa Act review is to develop new or enhanced powers that will provide the City with the fiscal tools necessary to better address its operating requirements, as well as its financial needs. The working principles also identified a draft process for developing these new powers, which would be determined through a two-fold, due diligence analysis. Briefly, the City of Ottawa would determine:
§ Proposed powers and authorities, demonstrating the need for each new and/or enhanced powers and providing examples whereby the current legislation/regulation or policy requirements does not permit them to participate in those areas in a manner that the City wishes to act;
§ Powers of the Province that they are not seeking to exercise, either in terms of entire statutes, or specific matters within certain Acts;
§ Capacity of the City to take on new powers and authorities; and
§ Benefits that each new grant of authority would bring, in terms of: improved efficiency; improved effectiveness; service improvements; or good governance.
Staff have been able to condense this analytical process down to the templates which are attached at Documents 1 and 2 to this report. In addition, the templates also identify the various Ottawa 20/20 principles that correspond to the particular amendment being proposed. For example, Amendment Proposal No. 3, the authority of the City to establish an “endowment fund”, is cross-referenced to include 6A and 6B, meaning the “Accountability” and “Fiscal Responsibility” sections of the sixth principle, “A Responsible and Responsive City.” Representing the Provincial Government, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in consultation with other provincial ministries, would articulate, on an interest-basis, those issues and areas where the Government would continue to legislate and regulate the City of Ottawa.
The staff working group, which was comprised of both Ministry and City officials, undertook the following:
(i) Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed new powers and authority for the City of Ottawa Act;
(ii) Consult, as appropriate;
(iii) Undertake a review of special (private) legislation relevant to Ottawa (i.e. the former, pre-amalgamation municipalities); and
(iv) Recommend changes to the City of Ottawa Act and any other special (private) legislation pertaining to Ottawa.
The working principles also identified a significant concept known as, “Linkages” which identified at least two other legislative reviews undertaken by the Ministry, being the City of Toronto Act review and the Municipal Act, 2001 review. The working principles recognized that, as there is a close relationship between the reviews of the Toronto legislation, the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Ottawa Ac, it is likely they may inform and affect each other. The timing for this matter to be considered by the Legislature is believed to coincide with all the other legislative reviews before the end of 2005.
(iii)Special (Private) Legislation
With respect to the legislative process to enact a provincial statute, a Public Bill relates to a matter of public policy and is usually general in its application and character and is often initiated by a Cabinet Minister. Conversely, a Private Bill relates to a matter of special benefit to a particular person or group of persons, a municipality or a corporation and is the vehicle by which a member of the public may initiate a Bill by applying to the Legislative Assembly. Briefly, a Private Bill will often have, as its objective, a “privilege”, better understood as an exemption from the general law or a specific provision that cannot be obtained under the general law. Where one or more individuals, a company, municipality or other local authority seeks any special privilege requiring legislative action, this legislation can only be obtained by means of a Private Bill.
As it relates to the City of Ottawa and its predecessor municipalities, there remain in existence an estimated 120 private or special statutes, some dating back to the 1870’s. Previously enacted on behalf of the former local municipalities in Ottawa-Carleton, the Legal Services Branch undertook a review of all such Acts in order to determine whether or not any of these statutes should be retained in the new City of Ottawa Act or be repealed. Some of the more recent Acts reviewed in this process have been recommended for retention, including the City of Ottawa, 1992 (No. 2), which permitted the leasing of a multi-purpose recreation complex [subsequently known as the Lynx Baseball Stadium]. Staff have also recommended that other, more obsolete private Acts be repealed, such as the City of Ottawa Act, 1909 which concerned the grant of a right-of-way across Rockcliffe Park for the Ottawa Electric Railway.
Officially repealing dozens of obsolete statutes and including those to be retained within a new City of Ottawa Act, will result in a consolidated and well-ordered version of the City’s enabling legislation.
(iv) Regulatory/Statutory Proposals
In compiling a list of proposed statutory amendments to the City’s enabling legislation, senior staff have sought to reflect both the current operational and fiscal needs of the City. As noted above, numerous proposed changes to the Municipal Act were approved by Council in November 2004. Based on the recommendations put forward by AMO and AMCTO, Council also approved a wide array of both substantive and of technical amendments, including such diverse matters as the discretion to hold electronic meetings. Staff have subsequently added to this list and a complete copy of these thirty statutory proposals can be found in Document 2 of this report entitled, “Additional Legislative Proposals”.
Following City Council’s approval, it is expected that the proposed amendments to the City of Ottawa Act and the Municipal Act, 2001, will be introduced in the Legislature before the end of this year. It is anticipated that these statutory changes could be implemented in the spring of 2006, although their effective start date could be deferred to coincide with the beginning of the 2006-2009 term of council.
Despite the expectation of various, municipal legislative reforms to be in place in the next year, the City’s 2005 Budget identified continued financial pressures for 2006 and 2007, even after considering rate of inflation increases in fees and service charges and taking into account assessment growth from new properties. Without adding any new programs or capital projects, the 2006 tax increase is estimated at approximately 7% to 10%. In response to the pending budget pressures, City staff have assembled selected, regulatory and statutory proposals that could help alleviate the impact on the property tax bill and be implemented by year’s end. Many of these revenue tools were identified in the City’s Long Range Financial Plan and have already been received by municipalities in other provinces.
The first of these amendments, identified as “Regulatory Proposals” in Document 1, are those changes that could be made to existing Provincial Regulations. In light of the 2006 Budget pressures, these proposals can be characterized as being of an urgent nature to the City and of little or no cost to the Province. If necessary, it is suggested that these regulatory amendments could be provided by the Province on an “interim”, time-limited basis or as a pilot project, after which time they could be jointly evaluated. These seven proposals are as follows:
1. Authority to charge-back to benefiting school boards a pro-rated share of the cost of municipal elections.
2. Authority to collect road-related fees and costs from telecommunication, hydro and gas companies.
3. Permissive investment legislation to broaden investment criteria for the City’s Capital Endowment Fund.
4. Authority to have municipal discretion respecting property tax policy issues (i.e. capping, ratios, classes, assessment duties and frequency).
5. Authority to subdivide property tax bill into services.
6. Ability to negotiate directly with the Federal Government on programs and policies regarding affordable housing.
7. Authority to cap municipal contribution to provincial cost-sharing programs (10 year plan to eliminate City portion).
These proposals and the rationale for same can be found in Document 1 of this report, entitled “Proposed Amendments: A. Regulatory Proposals”.
Similarly, a list of “Statutory Proposals” of a “tax stabilization” nature has been developed in order to provide Council the ability to mitigate further property tax increases in the 2006 Budget. While these changes could be implemented by the fall of 2005, they would require formal approval by the Provincial Legislature, as amendments to the City of Ottawa Act or, indeed, the Municipal Act, 2001. The list of statutory amendments consists of twenty-one proposals, including the following:
§ Exempt Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit System from existing provincial railways legislation;
§ The authority to licence businesses differently, based on geographical location;
§ The authority to introduce a vehicle plate fee; and
§ Greater control over the annual budgets of the Police Services and Conservation Authorities.
A complete list of these proposals and the rationale for same can be found in Document 1 of this report, entitled “Proposed Amendments: B. Statutory Proposals”.
In conclusion, the City of Ottawa has a rare opportunity to update the City of Ottawa Act by removing various provisions which are no longer relevant, to modernize it by officially repealing dozens of obsolete, private statutes while incorporating others and to amend the Act in matters unique to the City of Ottawa. That being said, this report has tabled for discussion, a host of legislative amendments and suggested fiscal tools that the Province may ultimately determine are not necessarily distinct to Ottawa. As such, the City can still assure itself a leadership role with respect to those suggested amendments should the Province consider migrating them to the broader Municipal Act, 2001 – Review.
Many members of the City’s management group have contributed to the recommendations set out in this report. Prior to the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee meeting to consider these matters, an e-mail account will be opened on the City’s website (www.ottawa.ca) to receive public comments on this report. Those comments, as well as any others that are received, will be forwarded to all Members of Council prior to Council’s deliberation of this report.
Some of the requests included in this report could help alleviate a significant increase in property taxes. The approval of some of the proposals could provide additional budget relief of approximately $20 million for 2006. That equates to a 2.5% property tax increase for the City. Furthermore, the impact of these proposed amendments could assist the City in dealing with future on-going budget pressures that are anticipated to result in annual future tax increases of over 7% per year.