Understanding the Role, Time Commitment and Powers of Municipal Council
As a member of council, you will have the opportunity to shape the future of your municipality. Any ideas or proposed changes you have in mind cannot be achieved without the support of other council members.
What is the role of municipal council?
A common role of municipal council is to provide essential core services to the community such as:
While all of the above responsibilities are important aspects of municipal responsibility, council members are not directly responsible for providing these services. Council members' individual responsibilities can be broken as follows:
What is the time commitment required of a council member?
Many, if not most, council members have full-time jobs outside of municipal council. It's important not to underestimate the amount of time and dedication required to be an effective member or council.
You will either be elected to a three year term (urban municipalities) or to a two year term (rural municipalities) and expected to participate in monthly (sometimes bi-weekly) council meetings. Being a member of council, your responsibilities are not restricted to attending regular council meetings. In addition, you will be expected to attend and participate in:
You will also need to spend a significant amount of time talking to the public, business, colleagues in other municipalities, municipal staff and your administrator. Continuing interaction with these groups is an essential part of making an informed decision as a council member.
What powers and authority are granted to municipal council?
Municipal council derives their authority from The Municipalities Act, The Cities Act or The Northern Municipalities Act. Individual members of council are not permitted to make decisions on their own on behalf of the municipality. Any election promise you made during your campaign can only be carried out if you can convince a majority of council that it is in the best interest of the municipality.
When you take office, you will not be starting off from scratch. There will be local legislation existing in the form of bylaws, which will remain in effect until they are amended or repealed. It would be a good idea to contact your municipality and become familiar with local legislation prior to running for council so that you have a good idea of what policies exist in your community, and what kind of changes you might want to consider.