The City of Toronto Act, which came into force in 2007, tells us how the City is to be governed.
For any updates to the excerpted sections of the Act below, please check the most recent copy of the Act City of Toronto Act, 2006
The following excerpt contains key sections which:
1) set the context and principles for the governance of the City, and
2) tell us about how the City, through its elected officials, governs through its by-law making powers.
1. (1) The City of Toronto exists for the purpose of providing good government with respect to matters within its jurisdiction, and the city council is a democratically elected government which is responsible and accountable.
Purposes of this Act
2. The purpose of this Act is to create a framework of broad powers for the City which balances the interests of the Province and the City and which recognizes that the City must be able to do the following things in order to provide good government:
1. Determine what is in the public interest for the City.
2. Respond to the needs of the City.
3. Determine the appropriate structure for governing the City.
4. Ensure that the City is accountable to the public and that the process for making decisions is transparent.
General Powers of the City
Scope of powers
6. (1) The powers of the City under this or any other Act shall be interpreted broadly so as to confer broad authority on the City to enable the City to govern its affairs as it considers appropriate and to enhance the City’s ability to respond to municipal issues. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 6 (1); 2006, c. 32, Sched. B, s. 2.
(2) In the event of ambiguity in whether or not the City has the authority under this or any other Act to pass a by-law or to take any other action, the ambiguity shall be resolved so as to include, rather than exclude, powers the City had on the day before this section came into force. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 6 (2).
Powers of a natural person
7. The City has the capacity, rights, powers and privileges of a natural person for the purpose of exercising its authority under this or any other Act. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 7.
8. (1) The City may provide any service or thing that the City considers necessary or desirable for the public. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 8 (1).
(2) The City may pass by-laws respecting the following matters:
1. Governance structure of the City and its local boards (restricted definition).
2. Accountability and transparency of the City and its operations and of its local boards (restricted definition) and their operations.
3. Financial management of the City and its local boards (restricted definition).
4. Public assets of the City acquired for the purpose of exercising its authority under this or any other Act.
5. Economic, social and environmental well-being of the City.
6. Health, safety and well-being of persons.
7. Services and things that the City is authorized to provide under subsection (1).
8. Protection of persons and property, including consumer protection.
10. Structures, including fences and signs.
11. Business licensing. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 8 (2); 2006, c. 32, Sched. B, s. 3 (1, 2).
Scope of by-law making power
(3) Without limiting the generality of section 6, a by-law under this section respecting a matter may,
(a) regulate or prohibit respecting the matter;
(b) require persons to do things respecting the matter;
(c) provide for a system of licences respecting the matter. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 8 (3).
Scope of by-laws generally
10. (1) Without limiting the generality of section 6 and except as otherwise provided, a by-law under this Act may be general or specific in its application and may differentiate in any way and on any basis the City considers appropriate. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 10 (1).
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply with respect to a by-law made under Part VII (Financial Administration), VIII (Finances), XI (Traditional Municipal Taxes), XII (Limits on Traditional Municipal Taxes), XIII (Collection of Traditional Municipal Taxes) or XIV (Sale of Land for Tax Arrears (Real Property Taxes)). 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 10 (2).
Conflict with legislation, etc.
11. (1) A city by-law is without effect to the extent of any conflict with,
(a) a provincial or federal Act or a regulation made under such an Act; or
(b) an instrument of a legislative nature, including an order, licence or approval, made or issued under a provincial or federal Act or a provincial or federal regulation. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 11 (1).
(2) Without restricting the generality of subsection (1), there is a conflict between a city by-law and an Act, regulation or instrument described in that subsection if the by-law frustrates the purpose of the Act, regulation or instrument. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 11 (2).
Specific power, by-laws under general powers
12. (1) If the City has the power to pass a by-law under section 7 or 8 and also under a specific provision of this or any other Act, the power conferred by section 7 or 8 is subject to any procedural requirements, including conditions, approvals and appeals, that apply to the power and any limits on the power contained in the specific provision. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 12 (1).
Role of city council
131. It is the role of city council,
(a) to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the City;
(b) to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the City;
(c) to determine which services the City 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;
(e) to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the City, including the activities of the senior management of the City;
(f) to maintain the financial integrity of the City; and
(g) to carry out the duties of council under this or any other Act. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 131.
Powers of city council
132. (1) The powers of the City shall be exercised by city council. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 132 (1).
(3) A power of the City, including the City’s capacity, rights, powers and privileges under section 7, shall be exercised by by-law unless the City is specifically authorized to do otherwise. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 132 (3).
(4) Subsections (1) to (3) apply to all of the City’s powers, whether conferred by this Act or otherwise. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 132 (4).