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Guelph residents speak out against strong mayor powers at council meeting

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A long list of people were speaking out in the Royal City during a Tuesday night council meeting.

Delegates lined up to raise their concerns for the strong mayor powers announced by the provincial government.

"Please put everything into effect that you can to protect the democracy of this chamber," one delegate said.

The mayor of Guelph is one of 26 municipal leaders who will be granted the powers as of July 1.

The legislation gives mayors the ability to veto bylaws that conflict with provincial priorities, like building more houses.

"Sadly, some of the more toxic and undemocratic aspects of the strong mayors act still exist," another delegate said. "For example, housing bylaws passing with a minority vote."

Many of the delegates asked that notice be given to the public if and when the power is going to be used.

Strong mayor powers for Toronto and Ottawa took effect back in fall of last year.

Ottawa set up a website for the public to find out more information. Guelph plans to do the same.

Staff say any decision and directives that are issued by the mayor will be made in writing and posted online.

Ward 5 Councillor Leanne Caron noted that they had still not seen the legislation for the strong mayor powers coming into effect.

"We anticipate seeing them hopefully later this week," a staff member said in reply to Coun. Caron. "We know what was publicly announced, so we expect this to look much like it looked in Ottawa, but that's not to say that there won't be some things in the regulation that don't surprise us.

"Be patient with us as we wait to see them and better understand them."

Council also voted on how long delegations can speak during planning matters, which will be maintained at 10 minutes.

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