With recent discussion surrounding Town Council and the proposed Century Condos project downtown, there is a common misunderstanding as to what decisions a council can or can not make.
Under the Municipal Act, one of the conditions that a municipal council becomes a “lame-duck” (a colloquial term) is when less than 3/4 of the current council are not returned to their seats.
This provision derives from Section 275 of the Municipal Act. If you wish to read the exact verbiage of the Act, please click here.
In layman’s terms, a lame-duck council:
- can not hire employees/officers for the municipality
- can not dismiss employees/officers of the municipality
- can not sell-off property valued in excess of $50,000
- can not incur any liability in excess of $50,000
If a matter comes before a lame-duck council that does not fall under those four categories, then it is business as usual. The business of the municipality must continue, it can not sit frozen between the Certified Election Results and the inauguration of a new council.
So what happens if a matter comes up in a municipality that does fall into one of those aforementioned categories. The Municipal Act allows for municipal employees to be delegated these authorities in advance of a possible lame-duck situation, so that the business of the municipality can continue unaffected.
In the case of Grimsby, these authorities were delegated to the Town Manager and the Director of Finance through By-Law 18-56 on July 16, 2018. The text of the By-Law is below:
So in a quick closing, Town Council under the Municipal Act has the authority to conduct regular business with the exception of matters falling under the previously mentioned four categories. Matters under those categories may be carried out by the Town Manager or Director of Finance, who will then be required to report any of those actions taken to the new Council in the first-quarter of 2019.
It only makes sense that a Council (lame-duck or not) be able to continue to make decisions until the next term of Council is inaugurated. The duty and responsibility to advance the business of the municipality must continue and thus is restrained only in certain matters.