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January 12, 2007
Toronto government enacts powers under new City of Toronto Act
  
Mayor David Miller and the Toronto government are moving quickly to implement the new governance reforms and accountability provisions required under the new City of Toronto Act through three key reports going to City Council in February. One report promotes increased neighbourhood participation by delegating local governance matters to Community Councils, thereby allowing Council to focus on broader strategic issues.

The other two reports deal with implementing one of the most comprehensive accountability regimes in municipal governance in Canada. This includes the current Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner, upholding the current Code of Conduct for Members of Council, as well as the development of a Lobbying Control Framework, and the appointment of an Ombudsman to investigate complaints from the public.

“Toronto’s government is already the most open, consultative and responsive order of government - it’s part of our tradition,” said Mayor David Miller. “In adopting these new measures we are furthering our commitment to transparency and accountability, and we are enhancing public confidence in how the City makes decisions.”

1. Delegation of Certain Matters to Community Councils
There are four community councils (Scarborough, Etobicoke York, Toronto and East York, North York) that are comprised of City Councillors. Routine local matters will be delegated to community councils for final decision. These include:
  • enforcement and exemptions of City bylaws and policies for such matters as on-street parking/standing/stopping, certain on-street traffic regulations, road alterations, traffic calming, natural garden exemptions, and exemptions to the Noise, Fence and Graffiti bylaws
  • appeals of City permits on such matters as residential front-yard parking, appeals regarding boulevard cafes and street vending
  • citizen appointments to management and advisory boards for arenas, community centres, Business Improvement Areas and museums.


2. Lobbying Control Framework
The City’s Lobbyist Control Framework is comprised of a Lobbyist Registrar, a Lobbyist Registry and a Code of Conduct for Lobbyists. These measures will promote high standards of ethical conduct on the part of lobbyists in their interaction with City officials by ensuring that:
  • lobbyists disclose their meetings with Councillors, staff or local boards
  • lobbyists adhere to a strict code of conduct
  • the Lobbyist Registrar reports to Council
  • penalties apply to lobbyists who break the rules.


3. New Statutory Accountability Requirements
The new City of Toronto Act sets out five accountability and transparency measures: Auditor General, Integrity Commissioner, Code of Conduct for Councillors, Lobbyist Registrar and an Ombudsman. The City already has an Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner as well as a Code of Conduct for Members of Council and members of some local boards. It is expected that the Lobbyist Registrar will be appointed in February and that an Ombudsman may be appointed later this year. For more information, visit http://www.toronto.ca/city_council/window.htm.

“With these new powers comes responsibility, that’s why City Council asked for stronger accountability measures in the Act,” added Mayor Miller. “Toronto’s actions are clear and responsible, and serve as a model for municipalities across Ontario and Canada.”

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Backgrounders

Delegation of certain matters to Community Councils

Toronto City Council has seven standing committees and four community councils that assist Council in debating issues, receiving input from the public and reaching decisions.

Governance restructuring gives community councils final decision-making powers on a variety of local matters such as parking, property and traffic control in their area. Stronger community councils allow residents and businesses to provide input on issues that directly affect their neighbourhoods.

The four community councils (Scarborough, Etobicoke York, Toronto and East York, North York) are comprised of City Councillors.

The matters delegated to community councils are based on the following principles:
  • local routine matters should be delegated to community council for final decision
  • only matters that can be legally delegated will be delegated
  • matters that are City-wide will not be delegated
  • community councils should not have final decision-making powers on matters that fetter Council’s subsequent decision on a City-wide matter or a matter that cannot be delegated.


Routine local matters will be delegated to community councils for final decision. These include:
  • enforcement and exemptions of City bylaws and policies for such matters as on-street parking/standing/stopping, certain on-street traffic regulations, road alterations, traffic calming, natural garden exemptions, and exemptions to the Noise, Fence and Graffiti bylaws
  • permit appeals on such matters as residential front-yard parking, appeals regarding boulevard cafes and street vending
  • citizen appointments to management and advisory boards for arenas, community centres, Business Improvement Areas and museums.


The City of Toronto Act outlines rules for City Council to delegate its powers and duties. The Act provides that Council can limit or rescind the delegation of authority at any time without notice.

Lobbying Control Framework

The City of Toronto has developed a Lobbying Control Framework in order to promote high standards of ethical conduct on the part of lobbyists in their interaction with City officials.

The Lobbying Control Framework clarifies the relationship between lobbyists and the City, and enhances mechanisms to control lobbying to ensure the City’s decision-making processes are open and accountable and that the rules are applied consistently. The framework establishes clear direction on when and how lobbyists are registered, the types of communications that must be reported, how this information will be available for public inspection, and a set of professional standards for lobbyists.

The Lobbyist Control Framework includes appointing a Lobbyist Registrar, implementing a lobbyist registry, adopting a lobbyists’ code of conduct and a system of enforcement mechanisms if lobbyists break the rules.

The Lobbyist Registrar will develop procedures for implementing the lobbying control framework and promote ethics, integrity and open government. Creation of this position will improve the relationship between lobbyists and the City and promote public confidence in the City’s decision-making processes.

The duties of the City Lobbyist Registrar will include:

  • Advisory: make rulings and provide advice and interpretations concerning the scope, application and administration of the lobbyist registry and the lobbyists’ code of conduct; and consulting with members of Council on lobbying matters
  • Complaint Investigation and Adjudication: assess, investigate and adjudicate formal public complaints about possible violations of the requirements of the lobbyist registry and the lobbyists’ code of conduct
  • Educational: publish annual reports on findings and issues; provide appropriate education and outreach programs for lobbyists, the public and stakeholders on the purpose and requirements of the lobbyist control framework; and publish information on the City’s website.


New Statutory Accountability Requirements

The City of Toronto is implementing one of the strictest sets of accountability measures in municipal governance in Canada through the adoption of five distinct mechanisms. In meeting its goal of open, accessible, ethical and accountable government, the City has already laid a strong foundation through the appointment of an Auditor General, and an Integrity Commissioner, both of whom report directly to Toronto City Council. In fact, Toronto was the first city in Canada to appoint an Integrity Commissioner.

The City is now enhancing this commitment with plans to adopt the remaining three accountability components: appointment of a Lobbyist Registrar who will be charged with implementing Canada’s first municipal Lobbyist Registry at the municipal order of government; application of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and some local boards; and plans to appoint an Ombudsman to mediate complaints from the public.

There are five components to the City of Toronto’s accountability mechanisms:

The Auditor General is appointed by City Council and is independent of the administration. The Auditor General’s work focuses on strengthening Council's oversight role and continuing to improve accountability measures.

Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner plays an important role in maintaining the public’s confidence in City Hall and in ensuring that the codes of behaviour and ethics governing elected officials are objectively communicated and applied.

The Code of Conduct is intended to provide members of Council and other City board appointees with guidelines for appropriate behaviour and conduct that meet the highest ideals of public service. It provides guidelines on ensuring openness, transparency and equity in the City’s processes as well as providing for a complaint protocol.

The Lobbying Control Framework includes appointing a Lobbyist Registrar, implementing a lobbyist registry, adopting a lobbyists’ code of conduct and a system of enforcement mechanisms, including penalties for infractions.

The position of Ombudsman will be created in 2007 and will report directly to City Council. The Ombudsman will investigate citizen complaints about the City, and certain local boards of the City.


Media contacts:
Stuart Green, Mayor’s Office, 416-338-7119
John Elvidge, Manager, Corporate Policy, 416-392-8641
Anne McLaughlin, Strategic Communications, 416-397-5707


 

 

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