Council is the governing body of the municipal corporation and the custodian of its powers, both legislative and administrative. Councillors exercise the powers of the municipality through decisions made at council meetings and define the policies and direction for administration to follow.
The Municipal Government Act provides that councils can only exercise the powers of the municipal corporation in the proper form, either by bylaw or by resolution. No individual Councillor or group of Councillors can make a decision or ask administration to take action except within meetings of council where an appropriate bylaw or resolution is passed.
A Councillors job is to work with other council members to set the overall direction of the municipality through the role of policy-makers. The policies that council sets are the guidelines for the administration to follow as it handles the operations of the municipality. Councillors spend much of their time on council considering new policies and programs and reviewing the current ones to make sure they are working as they should.
Policy-Making and Program Monitoring
Council is responsible for providing services that residents need and want. This responsibility involves providing input regarding the municipality’s programs and services (policy- making) and making sure that administration provides the programs and services in the best possible way (program monitoring).
Policy-making provides a way of ensuring that consistent decisions are made on similar matters. Policies should establish general guidelines that Council sets for administration to follow. Administration then provides programs and services to residents according to those policies.
Program monitoring means staying up to date on the programs and services that the municipality offers and assessing the results against what Council plans to achieve.
Under the Municipal Government Act, all councillors have the following duties:
- to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and to bring to council’s attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality;
- to participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality;
- to participate in council meetings and council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by the council to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer or a person designated by the chief administrative officer;
- to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public to perform any other duty or function imposed on councillors by this or any other enactment or by the council.
Councillors are elected to look after the interests of the entire municipality. Council’s effectiveness depends on individual Councillors providing input as a representative of their respective area, while thinking and voting for the needs of the whole municipality.
Council members serve four-year terms and can be re-elected for unlimited consecutive terms.
- A councillor must reside within the Division from which they are elected and they must be qualified voters of the Municipality
- The Reeve and Deputy Reeve are elected annually, by council, at the organizational meeting held each October
- Council representatives on the slate of boards and committees are also appointed at the organizational meeting, and appointments to boards and committees can vary from one to three years