Council is the group of elected representatives who make decisions for the municipality. Council has four major roles:
• Decision-making – Council is responsible for making fair and transparent decisions based on relevant information, discussion and a majority vote.
• Governance – Council is responsible for passing the local bylaws that govern people and their municipality on a wide range of topics, from animal control to zoning.
• Representation – Council is democratically elected. As representatives of the community, council members are responsible to listen to and engage with the public, and consider the best interests of the whole municipality.
• Stewardship – Council is responsible for the supervision and care of the municipality’s resources. This means making sure that infrastructure, money and staff are used properly and effectively. This also means planning strategically for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Only council as a whole can make decisions for the municipality, and all council members must respect the decision even when they did not vote in favour.
Council as a whole must:
Develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality. Council decides the type and level of services that will be delivered, and should make sure these services are meeting council’s objectives.
Council is also responsible for the municipality’s policies, which keep decisions clear and consistent for the public, administration and council.
Ensure that the powers, duties and functions of the municipality are appropriately carried out. Council is accountable to the public for its decisions and how the municipality operates.
Carry out the powers, duties and functions given to Council by legislation. Council is responsible to ensure that the municipality acts within the law, and meets any legislated requirements. A municipality can be taken to court by any person if it acts outside its legal authority
Council members have an equal voice at the council table – every council member has one vote and must consider the needs of the entire municipality.
Individual council members cannot make decisions on behalf of the municipality, and may be held legally or financially liable if they do.
All council members must:
• consider the interests of the municipality as a whole. All council members, even if elected by ward, have a responsibility to the whole of the municipality.
• participate in developing and evaluating the municipality’s programs and policies.
• participate in Council meetings, and on other bodies that you are appointed to. Council members are expected to attend and be actively involved.
• keep municipal matters confidential if they are discussed at a closed meeting. The consequence for breaching confidentiality is disqualification from council.
• comply with the Council Code of Conduct. Councils must have a code of conduct for members to follow.
• declare assets and avoid conflicts of interest. You will need to fill out a statement of your assets and keep it up to date. If something comes before council where you may have a conflict of interest, get advice before getting involved.