Ontario grants Strong Mayor powers to Ajax, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering and Whitby

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Published June 16, 2023 at 12:06 pm

The Province of Ontario has granted most of Durham Region’s mayors with new powers to decide budgets, handle staff and develop infrastructure.

On June 16, Ontario announced it was expanding the strong mayor powers to 26 municipalities across the province, including to Ajax, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering and Whitby. These towns’ and cities’ respective mayors are Shaun Collier, Adrian Foster, Dan Carter, Kevin Ashe and Elizabeth Roy.

All municipalities granted the powers are home to more than 100,000 people or will be by 2031. The 2021 population of Durham as a whole was nearly 697,000. This is expected to nearly double to 1.3 million by 2051.

The province rolled out the new powers last fall, initially limited to Toronto and Ottawa. Premier Doug Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark say the powers are necessary to expand the province’s housing supply and address the expected population boom.

The powers allow the mayor expanded authority over city budgets and the hiring and firing of senior city staff. And only a two-thirds vote of city council can overrule strong mayors on decisions regarding affordable housing projects, public transit, highways and other infrastructure projects.

“As we look to prepare for the future of our province, the strong mayors tool will be vital in helping our municipal partners cut red tape, streamline development and help us to meet our goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031,” Clark said.

However, the opposition NDP said the powers are “undermining the rights of elected local councils and the communities they serve.” The NDP has instead called for rent controls, renoviction bans, an end to exclusionary zoning and purpose-built rental mix.

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