The Role of a Councillor in St. Clair Township

The Role of a Councillor in St. Clair Township

Questions at the Door: I was asked a detailed and technical question about the role of the councillor.

Being a member of St. Clair Township Council is a demanding but rewarding position, and I feel I can make a positive difference.

A Councillor is elected to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality.

Election to office requires a broad understanding of the issues and the procedures for helping out the residents and land owners.

Knowing what the role requires is step one.

Councillor Roles

A Councillor plays several roles including Representative, Policy-making and Stewardship roles.

Councillor as a Representative

  • I have to ensure that the views of local communities and individuals in the Ward are represented and fed into decisions taken by the Council.
  • I have to be visible and accessible as a trusted point of contact and an effective advocate for Ward 2.
  • I also have a responsibility to communicate Council policy and decisions to residents and land owners in the Ward.

This means I have to spend time speaking and working with members of the public, community groups, and fellow ward members.

A councillor should make decisions in the best interests of the municipality as a whole and I hope that with your input and feedback, I will be able to make the correct decisions.

Statutory roles (Section 224 of the Municipal Act, 2001):

It is the role of council to:

  • Represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality
  • Develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality
  • Determine which services the municipality provides
  • Ensure that administrative and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council
  • Ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality
  • Maintain the financial integrity of the municipality
  • Carry out the duties of council under the Municipal Act, 2001 or any other Act
  • Other Roles include conducting meetings and passing bylaws.

Councillor as a Policy-maker

Councillors also develop policies with respect to:

policy role

Councillor as a Steward of the Township

The Township’s Asset Management Plan is reviewed every five years, and the planning progress and strategy is reviewed annually.

Procurement Procedures must be followed.

Councillors have a key role to play in scrutinizing and monitoring how well services are delivered by the Council and its partners and staff.

  • Council’s objectives are to ensure financial and administrative resources are used efficiently.
  • Council monitors and measures municipality’s administrative effectiveness and efficiency of the interrelationship of Council and Township Staff.

Municipalities should recognize the importance of council-staff relations:

staff role

Council Accountability and Transparency

Statutory Requirements in Ontario:

Ontario municipalities and council operate under a legislated accountability and transparency framework.

Key requirements for municipalities include:

  • Adopting policies related to accountability and transparency specified in section 270 of the Municipal Act, 2001
  • Establishing a code of conduct for members of council and certain local boards
  • Ensuring access to an Integrity Commissioner
  • Certain Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and open meeting requirements

The Township’s administrative practices and policies ensure specific accountability on the part of its employees through the following initiatives:

  1. Appointment and retention of competent leadership, including without limitation a Chief Administrative Officer
  2. Establishment of a fair and consistent performance management and evaluation process;
  3. Fair and transparent hiring practices and policies
  4. Adoption of consultative policies and practices
  5. Adherence to a continuous improvement philosophy in regards to accountability and transparency

From: St. Clair Township Bylaw 72 of 2007

Council Code of Conduct

Municipalities are required to adopt a code of conduct for members of council and certain local boards.

Mandatory subject matters that must be included:

  • Gifts
  • Benefits and hospitality
  • Respectful conduct
  • Dealing with confidential information
  • Use of municipal or local board property/equipment
  • Access to an Integrity Commissioner

St. Clair Township By-Law 10 of 2019Code of Conduct for Council and Local Boards


Council participation in Standing Committees

In addition to all of the above duties and responsibilities of Council Members, there are a number of Standing Committees that they sit on.

They carry out the work of Council by reviewing the situation or issue, and then report back to Council with recommendations.

Advisory Councils are made up of a mix of councillors and members of the public.

Standing Committees of St. Clair Township:

  • Public Works & Operations – All members of Council
  • Finance & Administration Committee – All members of Council
  • Emergency Services Committee – 3 Council Members
  • Drainage Court of Revision – 5 Council Members
  • Court of Revision (Local Improvement Act) – 5 Council Members
  • Economic Development Committee – 3 Council Members
  • Drainage Committee – 3 Council Members
  • St. Clair Region Conservation Area Board – 2 Council Members
  • Personnel Committee – 5 Council Members
  • Tourism Sarnia-Lambton – 1 Council Member
  • Committee of Adjustment – 2 Council Members, 5 Citizens
  • Lambton Group Police Services Board – 1 Council Member
  • Site Plan Committee – 3 Council Members
  • Lambton Area Water System Board – Mayor
  • Clean Harbours Community Liaison Committee – 2 Council Members
  • Terra Community Liaison Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Courtright Community Centre / Optimist Hall Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Brigden Community Centre / Optimist Hall Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Port Lambton Hall Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Wilkesport Hall Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Museum Committee (St. Clair South) – 1 Council Member
  • Sombra Community Centre Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Museum Committee (St. Clair North) – 1 Council Member
  • St. Clair River Trail Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Corunna Community Safety Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Brigden Community Policing Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Accessibility Advisory Committee – 1/2 Council Members
  • Brigden Library Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Parks Advisory Committee – 2 Council Members
  • Moore Historical Society – 1 Council Member
  • Trillium Funding Committee – 2 Council Members
  • Heritage St. Clair – 2 Council Members
  • Golf Committee – 2 Council Members, 4 Citizens
  • Lambton Farm Safety Committee – 1 Council Member, 1 Citizen
  • Lambton Historical Society – 2 Citizens
  • Lambton County Regional Trails & Active Transportation Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Community Awareness Emergency Response Committee – 1 Council Member
  • Livestock Valuers – 1 Citizen
  • Property Standards Committee – 1 Council Member, 2 citizens
  • Fence Viewers Committee – 3 Citizens

~Gary Martin~

Source: 2022 Municipal Election Candidate Information Session with additions from the St. Clair Township website.

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