A municipality is the "front-line" level of government. The elected council is the governing body of the municipality. Elected officials make decisions by passing resolutions or enacting bylaws. Bylaws are the laws of the municipality.
If elected as a member of council, you will have the opportunity to help shape the future of your municipality. If you are running with some kind of reform in mind, you will need to know what bylaws and policies are in place. Examples of local documents you may want to refer to are the meeting minutes, council procedure bylaw, code of ethics bylaw, employee code of conduct and the zoning bylaw. However, any ideas or proposed changes you have in mind cannot be achieved without the support of other council members.
Municipal council derives its authority from The Municipalities Act, The Cities Act or The Northern Municipalities Act, 2010. Council's main role is to make decisions about the services the municipality provides to its citizens. Council establishes policies about what essential core services to provide, how those services will be delivered and at what levels, such as:
- Roads and transportation;
- Water treatment and sewer facilities;
- Snow and garbage removal;
- Recreation facilities and programs;
- Land use planning and economic development;
- Building code regulations;
- Crime prevention;
- Fire prevention;
- Animal control; and
- Emergency planning.
The municipal administrator (or administration) is then charged with implementing those policies. Council relies on the support, advice and assistance of the administration throughout the decision-making process.
Municipalities have "natural person" powers (with some limitations) and governmental powers (which are those specifically authorized by legislation).
Natural person powers mean that a municipality has the same privileges as an ordinary citizen and can take actions not explicitly set out in legislation. Examples of such powers may include entering into contracts, hiring staff and acquiring property. These examples may have limitations such as road maintenance agreements.
Governmental powers are required by legislation that only council has the authority to enact. Examples of such powers are taxation and bylaws.
For more information on the role of a councillor visit the Government of Saskatchewan website at: Municipal Council Structure