The Office of Hamilton City Clerk Andrea Holland has ruled the Ontario Municipal Act prohibits municipalities from appointing anyone to any municipal committee during the 12 months which proceed a municipal election.
City Clerk’s Office Legislative Coordinator Tamara Bates delivered the interpretation at today’s Emergency and Community Services Committee, where councillors were being asked by the LGBTQ Advisory Committee to fill vacancies on the committee.
The City Clerk’s ruling means it will be at least a year and a half before the vacancies can be filled.
“The legislation is in the Municipal Act, but is it within 12 months, not at the end of council’s term, but within 12 months at a municipal election, that new members cannot be appointed to any committee of council,” Bates stated.
The Office of the City Clerk does not provide a citation of what Section of the Act states this.
The Act uses the term “election” and related words 162 times. None of these include any statement prohibiting appointments to bodies of Council.
Ward 5 City Councillor Russ Powers was appointed on November 12, which is less than a year prior to the October 24, 2022 regular election date.
City Clerk Andrea Holland prepared the bylaw appointing Powers to dozens of council bodies. The bylaw was passed on November 24, less than 11 months prior to the regular election.
Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson noted this, “Maybe it’s time to kind of relook that policy, so that we’re consistent … we just appointed a new member of Council who will have less than a year to serve on this term of Council.”
Council was told there is a separate City of Hamilton policy prohibiting any appointments in the year prior to an election.
Jackson asked if Council can amend its policies to allow appointments.
“If we were to change that, it would be in violation of the Municipal Act,” Bates stated.
Following pushback from members of the Council, the Clerk stated they would go back and “find some more clarity on that, that I can provide offline.”