As a private citizen, you can get involved in your municipality’s governance and election process and in the decision-making of your council. There are a number of ways you can hold your elected officials accountable.
You can become informed about council matters by:
Attending council meetings; and
Accessing municipal documents such as minutes and bylaws.
You can participate in council affairs by:
Writing letters to council;
Debating council decisions with elected officials;
Attending council meetings as part of a delegation to speak to matters; and
Petitioning for a public meeting, referendum, or a management or financial audit.
As well, you can exercise your right to vote for the mayor and councillor(s) for your community during a general election:
Urban and Northern Municipalities
General elections in urban and northern municipalities are held every four years. Urban and northern municipalities have a mayor (elected at large) and at least two councillors. Some urban municipalities are divided into wards and voters elect at least one councillor for each ward.
- Rural Municipalities
Each rural municipality is divided into numbered divisions. A rural municipality’s council has a reeve (elected at large) and a councillor for each division. Members of council are elected to four-year terms. General elections in rural municipalities are held every two years on a rotational basis. In 2016, general elections will be held for reeves and councillors in odd-numbered divisions. In 2018, elections will be held for even-numbered division councillors.
Understanding the authority and power that both municipalities and councils have will help you when speaking with your elected leaders and community officials.
A Municipality’s Powers
Provincial legislation gives Saskatchewan municipalities (urban, rural and northern) the autonomy to act according to its own direction on matters within its jurisdiction. It has natural person powers*, with limitations, and governmental power, which are those specifically authorized in legislation such as the power to enact bylaws and to raise revenues through taxation.
A municipality has the power to adopt bylaws to:
Provide for the health and safety of its residents;
Regulate activities, businesses, nuisances, streets and roads, transportation and transportation services;
Control land development and zoning;
Regulate vehicle and pedestrian traffic;
Regulate wild and domestic animals and their activities;
Borrow money; and
Set local tax policies and rates to cover the costs of providing municipal services.
Natural person powers mean that a municipality has the same privileges as a natural person and can exercise actions that are not explicitly set out in legislation. For example, the elected council can hire staff to manage daily administration and provide municipal services (e.g. roads, utilities, recreation facilities).
Council is a group of citizens/residents of the municipality, elected by the voters, to govern a municipality. Council members are accountable to the people who elect them.
Council has the power to make decisions about municipal services, establish policies and provide direction for the operation of the municipality. Council makes decisions about what services to provide, how those services will be delivered and at what levels.
The administrator is appointed by council to manage the general operations of the municipality. The administrator is responsible:
- To advise council on its legislative responsibilities;
To undertake the overall day-to-day administration, financial management and human resource management of the municipality in accordance with council’s policies and priorities; and
To advise council on operational and legislative matters.