Section 154(1) of the Community
Charter authorizes a municipal council to delegate its powers,
duties and functions to a council member, a council committee, an
officer or employee, or to another body established by council (the
Note: council may not delegate to a corporation.
This broad authority is balanced with
accountability to the public by including specific limitations on
delegation and, in certain cases, reconsideration mechanisms.
The Community Charter provides
specific limitations on the delegation of power, including mandating
certain decision-making authority that cannot be delegated (s.
- the making of a bylaw;
- a power or duty that is only exercisable by bylaw;
- a power or duty established by the Community Charter or any
other Act that the council give its approval or consent to, make
recommendations on, or accept an action, decision or other matter
(e.g., municipal council consent to participate in a regional
district service; approval of liquor licenses);
- a power or duty established by an enactment (e.g., by statute; by
bylaw) that the council hear an appeal or reconsider an action,
decision or other matter;
- a power or duty to appoint or suspend an officer except where
council has delegated that authority to the chief administrative
- a power or duty to terminate an officer; and
- a power to impose a remedial action requirement under
Division 12, Part 3 (Remedial Action Requirements).
As well, there are specific limitations on delegation contained in
the Local Government Act. For example, a council cannot
delegate the authority to issue a development variance permit (LGA s. 922(8)).
The Community Charter specifies a set of procedural rules
- Delegation must occur by bylaw with a simple majority of votes
- A delegation bylaw can be rescinded by a simple majority vote;
- Council can delegate a responsibility to hold a required hearing
or representation proceeding (e.g., public hearing for a rezoning)
through a bylaw or resolution) with a simple majority of the votes
- Once delegation has been made, the council cannot overturn the
decision of the delegated body. However, council may establish the
right to have decisions by a delegate reconsidered by council
- Municipalities must develop procedures for reconsideration where
this right is established in the Community Charter, the
Local Government Act, or another statute or bylaw.
Reconsideration rights under the Local Government Act include
the following: decisions on tree cutting;
cancellation or suspension of a business license; issuance of
development permits; issuance of temporary commercial or industrial
use permits; and issuance of heritage alteration permits;
Delegation by regional district boards continues to be governed by
the Local Government Act. The key difference with municipalities is
that delegation can only be made with the consent of 2/3 of the
votes cast by the board. Regional districts interested in delegation
best practices should refer to A Guide to Regional District Board Delegation to Boards and
Commissions (115 KB) .
When to consider
Councils have the opportunity to
delegate responsibilities to members, council committees, officers
and staff and other bodies created by council. This can provide
benefits for council. It allows detailed consideration of operation
or administration of a service or function to be the responsibility
of the delegated body. This enables more focussed and detailed
consideration by the delegated body. At the same time, it allows
council to focus on the broader and longer term needs of the
municipality (e.g., the overall policy in relation to services).
Council can now focus and streamline its agenda, committees can be
reinvigorated and staff can be empowered and assigned more routine
responsibilities of councils.
What to consider
Broad delegation authority provides a challenge for municipal
councils to develop effective delegation bylaws which establish
clear lines of accountability and communication between council and
the delegated body. Some key questions for councils to consider
To whom does council want to delegate?
Council has broad authority to delegate to council members, council
committees, officers and employees and other bodies created by
council. The latter could include ad hoc committees, commissions and
advisory bodies created by council. Council will want to consider
what decisions should be delegated and to whom. Some questions that
council will want to consider are the following:
- What are the benefits of delegating this issue to this person or body?
- What are the possible risks of delegating to this person or body?
- How would the public perceive the proposed delegation?
What type of matters does council want to delegate?
Some areas where council might consider delegating responsibility
are the following:
- Operational decisions: day to day decisions with respect to
operation of a service (e.g., parks or recreation
- Operational policies: establishing policies and procedures to
guide the operation of a service (e.g. the operation of an arena);
- Contracting: entering into contracts within constraints
established by council; and
- Expenditures: making expenditures within constraints established
What rules must delegates follow?
Councils will need to consider the terms and conditions to be
included in a bylaw delegating decision-making authority. Some of
the key areas where council may want to focus are the following:
- Budgets: the requirement to work within the budget assigned each
- Financial management policies: the applicability of adopted
financial management policies:
- procedures for tendering/purchasing (e.g., all contracts over
$5,000 must be put to tender); and
- limits on spending authority (e.g., the chief financial officer
can spend up to $50, 000 without council authorization).
- Communications: reporting responsibilities from the delegated body
to council and vice versa. Specifically, does the delegation bylaw
- all relevant information necessary for making an informed decision
to be received by the delegated body; and
- regular reporting from the delegated body to council.
Will there be a right to reconsideration?
Section 156 provides council with the power to
establish by bylaw the right to have decisions of a delegated body
reconsidered by council. Council will need to consider carefully whether and
where it wishes to provide this right. If council reconsiders too many
decisions, it will defeat the purpose of delegation, which is
empowerment of the delegate and freeing up council to focus on
broader, strategic issues. On the other hand, if the delegated body is
making important decisions which impact on individuals or property
rights, then fairness and political accountability may require an
opportunity for reconsideration.
If council chooses to exercise this right, or if the Community
Charter, or other legislation or a bylaw establishes a right of
reconsideration, then council must by bylaw establish procedures for
reconsideration, including how a person may apply for
reconsideration. If there is a right to reconsideration, the person
making the decision must advise the person subject to the decision
of the right of reconsideration. The goal is to ensure that the
person receives clear information in a timely manner, so that they
can decide if and when to exercise their right.
How will the exercise of delegated authority be monitored? How will
council know if it is working or not working?
Council will want to establish objectives for the delegation.
Possible objectives include: increasing efficiency of service
delivery; greater responsiveness to the clients of the service; and
improved functioning of council business.
The delegation bylaw can lay out expectations for the delegated body
and provide for regular review, to see if the objectives and
expectations are being met. If they are not being met, council will
need to determine the nature of the problem and determine its
response, for example:
- Is there a need for greater restrictions on the delegated body's
- Has the power been delegated to the wrong body?
- Are the procedures to be followed by the delegated body clear?
- Is this a type of power that really does not lend itself to
delegation and so once again should be exercised by council?
Please direct questions or comments to
Advisory Services Branch.