This course will seek to provide students with an understanding of the legal powers and duties of municipalities and the rights available to citizens, residents and taxpayers when dealing with local government. The course will examine the history of municipalities in Canada and their legal and policy frameworks, including the lack of constitutional status for local government. The course will trace the evolution of municipalities and their powers from the “Baldwin Act” in 1849 to the “modern” municipal legislative model that has been adopted in virtually every jurisdiction in Canada, with specific reference to the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006.
Topics will include a review of the form and structure of municipal government; municipal powers and jurisdiction as well as duties and liabilities; the role of municipal council and the head of council; the role of statutory officers and municipal administration; by-laws and resolutions as municipal legislation; the doctrine of ultra vires; the open meeting rule; the inapplicability of the indoor management rule; the enforcement of municipal by-laws and challenges to municipal actions; the discretionary enforcement principle and the unique self-help remedy available to taxpayers in Ontario. The course will also canvas municipal elections, conflict of interest legislation, municipal accountability and transparency, the municipal financing framework and municipal freedom of information and protection of privacy laws.