Municipalities in Ontario will elect new representative s on Oct. 22, 2018, and the town of Smiths Falls is making sure all the necessary rules will be in place.
At a meeting of town council’s Committee of the Whole on Dec. 4, town Clerk Kerry Costello presented councillors with several new and updated policies pertaining to the election.
The Municipal Employee Involvement Policy, setting out rules for involvement by municipal staff in political activity, is new for Smiths Falls. Noting that municipal staff are required to be impartial in the performance of their duties, the policy states that staff may participate in politics at all levels provided that activity takes place outside of work hours and without the use of any municipal resources.
The Election Related Resources Policy is a new policy to ensure that, in compliance with the terms of the Municipal Elections Act, no public funds or public property are used for any election campaign purposes.
Costello also presented a draft policy defining the restrictions on the authority of council during what is known as “lame duck” periods. One such period, from July 27 to Oct. 22, covers the time between the close of nominations and election day.
The second, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30, is the period between the election and the new council taking office. If at least five current members of council do not run for re-election and if, on Oct. 22, at least five members are not re-elected, council would be subject to a number of restrictions on its authority.
These restrictions would require council to delegate to the chief administrative officer the authority to spend more than $50,000, and to hire or fire any town official during those periods.
A fourth and final policy presented by Costello Dec. 4 covered rules applying to election signage. The proposed policy would require signs to be removed within a week of the election. As well, signs are prohibited on municipal property, cannot be erected prior to the start of the election campaign, can’t obstruct vehicle or pedestrian traffic, and can’t exceed 39 square feet in size.