Councillors want to take away stronger powers given to Burlington mayor

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Published March 25, 2024 at 1:30 pm

Burlington city hall power mayor politics

What Premier Doug Ford giveth, Burlington City councillors want to taketh away.

Apparently.

A special Burlington council meeting called for tomorrow (March 26) will focus on the extended powers granted to Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and whether she should relinquish some of those responsibilities.

The move comes in response to the new powers Ford has granted mayors across the province that go beyond what mayors in Ontario were traditionally allowed to do.

Some of the powers include singularly presenting the City’s budget, having the ability to hire and fire senior civil servants, the power to create and dissolve committees, and being able to veto certain decisions made by the rest of the council if they don’t fit Provincial government priorities.

Specifically, powers that some councillors want the mayor to relinquish include her ability to manage the organizational structure of the City and her hiring and firing capabilities.

The matter was raised recently at a regular meeting of council but it was decided to have a special meeting to, as one councillor put it, “devote more time to the subject and get everything on the table.”

Since then councillors have remained tight-lipped on the subject including Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

The silence has fueled speculation that Burlington councillors are not pleased with the way the new powers are being used at CityHall especially when it concerns the hiring of senior managers and the resulting staff morale.

Burlington has long complained that it has had trouble with staff retention and has sought different methods to reduce turnover but many say it hasn’t worked.

When Ford first announced the increased powers for mayors he said it was to help speed up the development process and build more homes. That too hasn’t worked with Burlington having one of the lowest levels of housing starts in the province which so far has meant the loss of millions of dollars of grant money.

At the time of Ford’s announcement, many mayors in Ontario including Meed Ward said they would be reluctant to exercise their new authority.

“There was no option to refuse the powers and as Mayor, I did not ask for these powers. My focus has always been on building a collaborative, cohesive Council,” Meed Ward stated at the time.

However, the City’s website shows the mayor has invoked the powers on matters concerning the hiring of the new City manager and selecting the chairs of standing committees, among other procedural moves.

Tomorrow’s meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. and can be viewed online by following this link.

 

 

 

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