24 October 2022 – that is the date of the next municipal elections in Ontario. The Election Candidacy Period (for Mayor, Councilor, and School Board Trustee) in which you can let your name stand for election is between 02 May-19 Aug 2022.
Under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, as updated in 2006, all municipal terms of office, with the exception of byelections, are for four years at a time. Terms continue or end every four years, depending on if the member is re-elected or not elected to another terms by their constituents.
Note: this piece discusses Ontario Municipal Elections, and does not contain info on First Nations government elections. For information on these elections, please visit Leadership Selection in First Nations or consult your local First Nation community.
What are the differences between the various types of levels of government within Ontario?
For the difference between the types of municipal governments in Ontario, the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) does a fantastic job of explaining what a Region, County, District and Single-Tiered look like across Ontario: https://www.amo.on.ca/about-us/municipal-101/ontario-municipalities.
What is a municipality responsible for anyways?
Section 2 of the Municipal Act, 2001 states that
“Municipalities are created by the Province of Ontario to be responsible and accountable governments with respect to matters within their jurisdiction and each municipality is given powers and duties under this Act and many other Acts for the purpose of providing good government with respect to those matters.“
A.K.A. A LOT more than people realize! The Act breaks it down into General Powers and Specific Powers and goes into quite a lot of detail. I invite you to peruse the Act at your leisure, because it does give a lot of insight into how/why certain decisions are made. It also addresses that there may be ambiguity regarding the authority that municipalities have over powers that it had before the Act came into place in 2006.
I tried to figure out a way to decipher the Municipal Act and I even consulted the Constitution Act, 1867 (which some of us may know as the British North America Act, 1867) to be able to put it into every day terms, and I struggled. I took a college-level law course that taught me all about deciphering legislation, and whew! No wonder people get lost. Shout out to again to the AMO for providing a top-notch break down of what municipalities are responsible for:
- Ambulance & Paramedic Services
- Animal Control and By-law Enforcement
- Arts and Culture
- Child Care
- Economic Development
- Fire Services
- Garbage Collection and Recycling
- Electric Utilities
- Library Services
- Long Term Care and Senior Housing
- Maintenance of Local Road Network
- Parks and Recreation
- Public Transit
- Planning New Community Developments and Enhancing Existing Neighbourhoods
- Police Services
- Property Assessment
- Provincial Offences Administration
- Public Health
- Side Walks
- Snow Removal
- Social Services
- Social Housing
- Storm Sewers
- Tax Collection
- Water and Sewage
- Note: this list changes depending on if the municipality is upper- or lower-tiered and if they share these responsibilities with a County, Region or District.
Alright, I get it, the municipality is responsible for a lot. Why should you get involved?
BECAUSE LITERALLY EVERYTHING LISTED ABOVE IMPACTS YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES DIRECTLY AND DAILY. Yes, I meant for that to seem like I am shouting it. I shout it from the mountaintops all the time when someone says “why bother with voting or running in a municipal election? It’s not like it directly affects me”. Yes, yes it very, very, very much does!
If you want to make a direct difference in your community and see the impacts of using your voice at the “horseshoe” (what most council chambers are known as because they are arranged so that everyone can see each other and be seen) has very quickly, you need to put your name forward for candidacy. If you want to influence these things, vote for the candidate that represents your voice regarding municipal issues, and even help your candidate’s campaign get their message out!
Not sure if you want to run for office yet, but you know that you want to have your voice heard about an issue? That’s OK too. Join a Council Committee, as they are responsible for providing recommendations to Council for approval and often require citizen appointees to work alongside elected & public officials.
I can’t stress this enough – use your voice, get involved, cast your ballot, and make difference! Don’t let age or finances for a campaign define if you are ready. If you are 19 years old or whatever age you and you want to represent your community and make sure that your voice is heard, VOTE OR RUN & VOTE.
How do I know if I’m eligible to vote or to run as a candidate?
You are eligible to vote in a municipal election if you qualify as a registered voter (the following link is from the 2018 Municipal Elections): https://www.ontario.ca/document/2018-voters-guide-ontario-municipal-council-and-school-board-elections/eligibility-vote
You can make sure that you are on the voters list for your municipality here: https://www.voterlookup.ca/home.aspx
Essentially, if you are eligible to vote in a municipal election, you are eligible to be a candidate. Specific eligibility rules can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/document/2018-candidates-guide-ontario-municipal-council-and-school-board-elections/eligibility-run-election
Probably my favourite part – you don’t need to be a part of a political party to put forward your candidacy. You just need to follow the rules outlined above and by your municipality to put your name on the ballot!
Where do I go for more information about voting or candidacy in my municipality?
How do you find out how to run in the election, who the candidates are in your municipality (besides attending the Candidate Debates) once the candidacy period opens, or even where to vote when the polls are open? Let me point the way.
There are approximately 444 municipalities across Ontario. To see which municipality you reside in (if you don’t know this because hey, you could have moved recently or you are just forgot), take a look here at the Province’s List of Ontario municipalities.
Below are the election sites for the areas that I live in/near or associate with.
- City of Barrie: https://www.barrie.ca/City%20Hall/election/Pages/default.aspx
- City of Belleville: https://www.belleville.ca/en/city-hall/municipal-election.aspx
- City of Quinte West: https://quintewest.ca/council-city-administration/elections/
- Essa Township (Angus, Baxter, Colwill, Ivy, Thornton, Utopia): https://www.essatownship.on.ca/government/election-2014
- New Tecumseth (Alliston, Beeton, Tottenham): https://www.newtecumseth.ca/en/town-hall/election.aspx
- Prince Edward County: https://www.thecounty.ca/government/election-2022/
For all other election sites, refer to the above list of municipalities. Most will either have the Election info as a main header given that it is an Election year, but some may have it listed under “Council”, “City Hall” or “Town Hall”). If you can’t find it, send me an email and I’ll look for you!