A petition may be a verbal or a written request to someone in authority, in this case the municipal council. The request may focus on a variety of issues, ranging from community enhancements to municipal bylaws to discontinuation of certain policies.
From time to time, a petition may reflect a public view regarding a proposed or current policy; however it does not bind council to a specific course of action. For example, citizens may petition council to consider improvements to a park or to a road, or it may register its opposition to a proposed curfew bylaw.
This type of petition is not addressed within The Municipalities Act or The Cities Act. The intent of this form of petition is to communicate public opinion to council on behalf of those citizens who choose to sign the document.
Municipalities and cities are accountable to the people who elect them and they are responsible for encouraging and enabling public participation in the governance process. An accountable, responsive council will consider the petition and will make a decision which, in its view, satisfies the public interest.
Both statutes specifically address petitions regarding selected items. For the purposes of this information, "the Act" will refer to either The Municipalities Act or The Cities Act where the information is common. In addition, "municipality" will include cities as well as other urban and rural municipalities.
Citizens may petition their council to hold a public meeting of municipal voters to discuss any municipal matter.
Minimum number of petitioners required:
- In cities, voters representing at least five per cent of the population
- In resort villages, voters representing at least eight per cent of the voters
- In other municipalities, whichever is greater:
- 20 voters, or
- voters representing at least five per cent of the population
The municipal administrator / city clerk has sole responsibility for determining the sufficiency of a petition.
The format of a petition for a public meeting is not described in the Act. Petition organizers are encouraged to consult with their municipal office to determine if the municipality has defined minimum requirements. If none have been set, consideration should be given to utilizing the same format as a petition for referendum, which is explained below.
If the municipality has, as a result of a previous petition, conducted a public meeting of the voters, the council may refuse to receive any further petition on the same or similar subject within one year after the date of the public meeting.
The mayor or reeve of the municipality is required to call a public meeting which is to be held within 30 days after council receives a valid petition. Council is required to provide public notice of the meeting in accordance with its public notice policy.
Opening Street or Road
In municipalities other than cities, a person or a group of persons may petition council to open a street or road. The Municipalities Act does not establish minimum requirements for this petition, therefore the petitioner or person acting on behalf of the petitioners may wish to contact the municipal office to determine the minimum requirements for the matter to be considered by council. Council is provided sole authority with respect to the opening of a road or street within the municipality. In certain circumstances, council may require the petitioner to pay all or a portion of the costs associated with opening the road or street.