Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford, released an open letter discussing the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022 on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
“I am pleased to share some important developments regarding the Strong Mayors powers, which were extended to the City of Brantford as of July 1, 2023. This provincial legislation, known as Bill 3, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022, grants specific powers and duties to a Mayor as the Head of Council. These powers have been provided by the province to help Cities streamline processes, cut red tape, and facilitate the delivery of crucial municipal-provincial priorities, including housing, transit, and local infrastructure.
Before deciding whether to exercise these new authorities, I wanted to ensure that the process was transparent and inclusive. That’s why I reached out to key stakeholders in our community, including members of Council, City staff, community leaders, and residents, through a Let’s Talk Brantford public engagement campaign.
This is a summary of what we heard from the community:
A significant majority of respondents were concerned about a Mayor exercising these new powers; however, there were two notable exceptions:
- 64% of respondents were agreeable to the Mayor directing City staff in research and counsel regarding City policies and programs.
- 54% indicated their approval of the Mayor presenting the City budget.
- A slight minority, representing 46% of respondents, were comfortable with the Mayor assigning functions to the Committees of Council.
For all other inquiries, respondents were predominantly opposed to the Mayor exercising new powers, emphasizing the importance of voter input and preserving Council’s collective influence.
I want residents to know that I considered the community’s input very seriously and understand the concerns expressed. I also want to emphasize that I did not see the need, with our current Council, to exercise any Mayor strong powers related to development matters. Our Council remains committed to achieving our provincial housing targets, and our track record speaks volumes. Council has been resolute in its dedication to building housing in our community that meets provincial targets. Our commitment to the provincial housing goals and providing the highest level of service to our residents remains unchanged.
Here are my plans then, regarding the use of Strong Mayor powers:
- Delegated authorities to the CAO will include determining the City’s organizational structure in consultation with the Mayor regarding significant reorganizations, and appointing or dismissing City Commissioners and the City Solicitor positions in consultation with the Mayor and after obtaining input from Council members. This includes a restructuring of the Human Resources Committee so that oversight of Human Resources (HR) matters, is better aligned with the delegation of these authorities to the CAO. The Mayor will retain the authority to appoint or dismiss the CAO in consultation with Council members.
- The mandate of the Committee of the Whole (COW) will be updated to include quarterly updates on Human Resources (HR) matters, specifically focusing on the HR Master Plan/People and Culture Report. This adjustment ensures that Council retains ultimate governance and oversight over HR matters. HR staff will take on the responsibility of developing these reports, that will focus on providing performance metrics for the City’s HR and Culture Master Plans. This initiative puts in place a comprehensive oversight mechanism for HR matters, while delivering a more informed perspective for Council. My expectation is that these changes will promote a deeper understanding and oversight by Council of the organization’s human resources and cultural development.
- Council is delegated the authority to establish or dissolve Committees, appoint Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and collectively assign functions to Committees.
- I intend to follow a budgeting process similar in form to previous years, seeking input from the public, local stakeholders, and Council. The City’s multi-year Estimates Committee budgeting process will begin in January, 2024.
Through the Strong Mayors legislation, I also have the authority to advance prescribed provincial priorities. Regardless of that authority, my plan remains prioritizing ongoing collaboration and consultation, reflecting my and City Council’s commitment to responsible and transparent governance.
I am grateful for the community’s input and support as we work together to build an even better Brantford.
Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford