Email to the Editor: Strong mayors ‘smacks of dictatorship’

A few days after the Ontario legislature recessed until September 25, Ontario Premier Ford announced that an additional 26 Ontario mayors in large municipalities would join Toronto and Ottawa to receive strong mayor powers under Bill 39.

On July 1, these strong mayors will have the powers to ram through housing-related bylaws with the support of only one-third of the councillors and override council approval of bylaws such as zoning bylaws. Strong mayors will also be able to prepare and table their city’s budget instead of council and hire and fire city department heads.

This is appalling and smacks of dictatorship. Our democracy is based on majority rule. Minority rule sets a dangerous precedent. Bill 39 should be repealed.

The real solutions to the housing crisis are not achieved by undermining the rights of elected local councils but by listening to what everyday Ontarians want which includes construction of new homes with a mix of starter homes, purpose-built rentals and affordable housing units.

We also need a public builder that would finance affordable and non-market rental homes operated by public, non-profit and co-op housing providers. Tenants want to be protected from rent gouging and displacement. The new housing should be within existing urban boundaries and the provincial government should protect irreplaceable farmland, wetlands and the greenbelt.

Ontarians deserve a comprehensive housing plan for all, not undemocratic strong mayor powers. Minority rule has no place in our democracy.

Brian Lynch