St. Catharines - Government and Politics - Municipal

Municipal

St. Catharines is governed by a mayor and city council of twelve city councillors, with two councillors representing each of the six municipal wards in the city. A city councillor is also elected by the council as a whole to serve as deputy mayor, who only fills the role should the elected mayor not be available. St. Catharines City Council meets every Monday and is open to participation by the community. Matters put forwarded are voted on by members of city council; the mayor presides over council debate and serves very much like the speaker, and as a result only votes in the case of a tie. After 2006, municipal elections will be in November every four years rather than the previous three. Unlike most cities its size, city councillors only serve on a part-time basis and continue with their non-political careers in the community. Only the mayor is elected to a full-time position. St. Catharines City Hall is located downtown on Church Street. Tim Rigby was the Mayor of St. Catharines from 1997 to 2006; Brian McMullan was elected to succeed Rigby on November 13, 2006, and was sworn in on December 4.

St. Catharines uses a council-manager government, and as a result a Chief Administrative Officer is appointed by council to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city and its departments. The CAO, in effect, is the highest ranking municipal civil servant and has authority over the spending of municipal tax dollars. The CAO advises council on policy matters and acts as liaison between the administrative staff and elected officials. Some of the CAOs duties include assisting in the creation of the municipal budget, and ensuring that municipal funds are spent in a responsible manner. Colin Briggs is CAO, replacing B. Robert Puhach who resigned in February 2007.

Residents of St. Catharines also elect six regional councillors to the Niagara Regional Council on an at-large basis. Unlike many other regional municipalities in Ontario, regional councillors do not sit on city council and instead only represent at the regional level. Four school board trustees for the District School Board of Niagara representing St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake are elected, as well as and three trustees for the Niagara Catholic District School Board, two for five of St. Catharines' wards, and one for Thorold and the Merriton Ward of St. Catharines. Regional councillors and school board trustees are elected at the same time, and on the same ballot, as the mayor and city councillors.

St. Catharines has one of the lowest resident/representative ratios of any large city in Ontario. There are just under 7,000 people per elected municipal representative in St. Catharines, while Oshawa (a similar-sized city in Ontario) has one representative per 13,500 people. London, Ontario has one representative per 30,500 people, and Toronto has one representative per 55,000 people. There has been recent discussion regarding a modification of the city/regional council arrangement, with the possibility of reducing city council to six full-time representatives and having the six regional councillors serve on city council. While there is growing support in the business community for such an arrangement, city council has been unreceptive to such ideas.

Read more about this topic:  St. Catharines, Government and Politics

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    No sane local official who has hung up an empty stocking over the municipal fireplace, is going to shoot Santa Claus just before a hard Christmas.
    Alfred E. Smith (1873–1944)