Municipalities in Ontario are facing what could be an extended period where they are restricted in the decisions they can make.
Changes to the Municipal Elections Act, adopted in 2016, constitutes the most significant update to the Act in the past 20 years. One particularly notable change is the change in the nomination period for candidates in the upcoming 2018 municipal election. The nomination day deadline is now July 27, 2018 for the October 22, 2018 election rather than the September deadline of previous elections.
This could cause certain municipalities to enter what is called a “lame duck” period where they are restricted as to decisions they can make leading up to an election. A municipality will be forced into a lame duck situation between July 27, 2018 and October 22, 2018 if less than three quarters of the existing council members are not running for municipal council and between October 22, 2018 and November 30, 2018 if less than 75 per cent of the incumbent council members have been elected to serve on the next council.
This earlier nomination deadline could cause some municipalities to operate in a longer lame duck period than in past elections. The Municipal Act 2001 restricts councils in a lame duck situation from: the appointment or removal from office any officer of the municipality, the hiring or dismissal of any employee of the municipality, the disposition of any real or personal property of the municipality which has a value exceeding $50,000 at the time of disposal and making any expenditures or incurring any other liability which exceeds $50,000.
To ensure municipal operations to continue throughout this period a bylaw can be passed to allow the CAO to make the decisions about the above matters. Merrickville-Wolford council agreed to create this by-law to allow their next Interim CAO to be the decision-maker should the municipality be faced with a lame duck situation. North Grenville Clerk Cahl Pominville says he provided a report to council on April 3, explaining the lame duck options they have. “They have not chosen to delegate authority at this time,” he says.