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On November 16, 2016 the Ontario government introduced changes to three key pieces of municipal legislation: Municipal Act, 2001, City of Toronto Act, Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

The proposed changes are focused on accountability and transparency; municipal financial sustainability; and responsive and flexible service delivery. Some of the key proposed changes include:

  • Establishing a broader range of penalties for contraventions to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act;
  • Requiring codes of conduct for members of municipal council and local boards;
  • Enhancing municipal investment powers to create innovative ways to finance replacement and/or repair of local infrastructure;
  • Permitting municipalities to pass climate by-laws and engage in long-term planning for energy use to address impacts of climate change; and
  • Encouraging the passing of by-laws related to green construction.

Some of the other changes include ensuring that women and parents are entitled to take time off for pregnancy and paternal leave, without concern about being unable to fulfil the duties of an elected office. All of the proposed changes are set out in the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act.

The proposed changes also broaden the scope of section 9, 10, and 11 of the Municipal Act, 2001 to permit municipalities to require the construction of green roofs or alternative roof surfaces that achieve similar levels of performance to green roofs. A green roof is defined as a roof surface that supports the growth of vegetation over a substantial portion of its area for the purpose of water and energy conservation.

The City of Toronto is the first city in North America to enact a by-law requiring and governing the construction of green roofs in development projects. The by-law requires the construction of green roofs on new commercial, institutional and residential developments having a minimum gross floor area of 2,000 m2.

These proposed changes could be a step towards creating more healthy cities. The public benefits of green roofs include aesthetic improvements, waste diversion, improved stormwater management, moderation of urban heat island effects, improved air quality, new amenity spaces and community areas. Benefits to developers of green roofs include increased energy efficiency, roofing membrane durability, fire retardation, reduction of electromagnetic radiation, and noise reduction.

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