Role of Council
Under the Municipal Act of Ontario,
Sec 224: It is the role of council,
a) To represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality;
b) To develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality;
c) To determine which services the municipality provides;
d) To ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council;d.1) To ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality;
e) To maintain the financial integrity of the municipality; and
f) to carry out the duties of council under this or any other Act, 2001, c. 25, s. 224;2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s.99
Role of head of council
Sec 225: It is the role of the head of council,
a) To act as chief executive officer of the municipality;
b) To preside over council meetings so that its business can be carried out efficiently and effectively;
c) To provide leadership to the council;
c.1) without limiting clause ©, to provide information and recommendations to the council with respect to the role of council described in clauses 224
d) and (d.1);d) To represent the municipality at official functions; and
e) To carry out the duties of the head of council under this or any other Act. 2001, c. 25, s. 225; 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 100.
Head of council as chief executive officer
Sec 226.1: As chief executive officer of municipality, the head of council shall,
a) uphold and promote the purposes of the municipality;
b) promote public involvement in the municipality’s activities
c) act as the representative of the municipality both within and outside the municipality, and promote the municipality locally, nationally and internationally; and
d) participate in and foster activities that enhance the economic, social and environmental well-being of the municipality and its residents. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 101
George Cuff is a well-recognized name in municipal government circles. Throughout his career, he has been a mayor, a department head, a recreational and youth specialist and an advisor to municipalities since 1976. He is the “governance zone expert” for Municipal World, a national magazine that has been publishing information and articles of interest to Canada’s municipalities since 1891.
In the January, 2015 edition of Municipal World Cuff offers a piece entitled, “What Does a Council Do?” wherein he suggests that some of the key roles of council involve representing, leading, listening and providing oversight. Cuff states that “too often, a council sees its role as simply affirming its administration’s advice”. He goes on to say “everything becomes stacked against the notion of a council member being expected to think for themselves or, ironically, to lead”. In keeping with the spirit of the Ontario Municipal Act, Cuff maintains that “each council should listen to the advice of their administration and weigh it against what they believe the public wants/expects. What is the best course of action? What allows the municipality to be sustainable in the future? What ensures a solid fiscal base on which to make future decisions? What decision allows future councils to have the capacity to make unencumbered choices”? With regards to council’s role in providing oversight to municipal governance, he proposes that “the essence of oversight lies in effective questioning and regular reporting. A member of council plays a very critical and important role by asking the right questions at the right time and in the right forum. While setting direction through policies and plans is essential, ensuring that those are being discharged as desired by council only occurs if there is some feedback loop that enables council to observe the effectiveness of its decisions through administrative implementation.” Of real importance to citizens of any municipality, Cuff advises that “councils also need to provide oversight on how the administration treats the public and responds to its requests. This is best done through clearly written protocols that the administration is expected to follow and that it utilizes to guide junior employees”.
It has been the practice of Lambton Shores to provide members of council with subscriptions to Municipal World. We wonder how many members are actually reading this wonderful magazine, and comprehending the importance of the content and advice that lies therein.