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Municipal Government

In addition to the federal and provincial/territorial governments in Canada, there are municipalities. These are created by the province or territory through a clause in the Constitution that allows them to delegate some of their responsibilities to another government body.


Local Area or Lower Tier Municipalities

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Depending on its size and its history, a local municipality may be called a city, a town, or a township. They are also referred to as "lower tier" municipalities when there is another level of municipal government like a county or region involved in providing services to residents. There are also a number of "separated" towns and cities which are geographically part of a county, they do not form part of the county.

The head of a local (lower or single tier) municipal council is either called the mayor or the reeve. The members of council may be called councillors or aldermen. The head of council is always elected at large by all of the voters in the municipality.

The way councillors are elected differs from municipality to municipality. Municipal councillors may be elected at large or by ward.

Where there is only one level of municipal government in an area, it is called a single tier municipality.

Regional or Upper Tier Municipalities

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Sometimes it is legislated or more efficient to provide certain services over an area that includes more than one local municipality. For this reason, counties (mainly in rural areas) or regions may be involved in providing services to residents and businesses.

A county or regional government is a federation of the local municipalities within its boundaries. Districts are like counties or regions in that local municipalities are contained within them, but they do not serve any municipal government purpose. Only a very few districts provide services on a regional-scale.

The head of a county council is called a Warden. The county council is composed of designated elected members from the lower tier municipalities. The county council itself selects the warden from among its members.

The head of a regional council is called a Regional Chair. The chair is usually chosen by a vote of the members of regional council. Some chairs, however, are directly elected.

Other members of regional council are selected in various ways. Some are elected directly by the voters to sit on regional council. Some are elected to sit on both the regional council and the local municipal council. In some municipalities, members of local municipal council are appointed by their councils to serve at the regional level. The head of council of a local municipality is a member of the regional council.

SOURCE: The Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
See also
Federal Government

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Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt