Bylaws and Policies
Governance is a term used to describe the political organization of municipalities. It also concerns the on-going involvement of citizens and the accountability of council members.
Each municipality in the province consists of a mayor and a varying number of councillors. The number of councillors usually depends on the population of the municipality and varies from four to ten. However, council has the ability to change the number of its council members.
All members of council are elected and serve a four-year term. Each member of council, including the mayor, is entitled to one vote on matters that come before them for discussion.
Municipal councils are empowered to address the existing and future needs of their community by making decisions that are recorded in bylaws or resolutions. Council members embody the public welfare of their communities which often means trying to balance their vision with the concerns expressed by the people and organizations affected by their decisions.
Councils also have the ability to manage the finances of their municipality by setting levels of expenditures and taxation. Ultimately, they are also responsible for the management and delivery of services to their community. These responsibilities are undertaken with very little intrusion by senior levels of government. However, there are circumstances where certain decisions made by council are not effective until they are approved by the province. For example, if a municipal council wants to change the boundary of their municipality, the province has the responsibility for deciding the matter.
In some cases, the mayor or council may decide to establish a committee or commission to undertake some work on behalf of council. Council can delegate some of its authority the committee or commission although this power has some restrictions. For example, it cannot delegate authority to make a bylaw or any power or duty exercisable only by bylaw.