Is Mayor Meed Ward feeling the heat and talking about a reset of the Strong Mayor powers - looks that way

By Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2024



Mayor Meed Ward had several opportunities to speak to City Council when they met for most of Monday and Tuesday of this week.

She appears to have taken a pass on that opportunity and decided instead to write an Open Letter.

It is all there, for you to read.  Nothing has changed, but that is an opinion you should reach on your own. The complete OPEN LETTER can be reached HERE

The question we have for the Mayor is:

Have you met individually and personally with the four members of Council that are, to date, rock hard in their view that they want you to relinquish some of the Strong Mayor powers you hold. In the news letters that members of Council send out none, other than ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, have made public comments on what you have done.

In your Open letter you point out that:

Of the 44 municipalities that have received the additional powers and duties under the legislation, 12 Mayors delegated all duties that could be delegated, 16 delegated none of the duties, and 16 delegated some of them.

I read that information, that you made public, to mean that most municipalities have shared the Strong Mayor powers.

Your colleagues are waiting to hear what you have to say at the scheduled April 16th meeting of City Council.

Use the word “reset”.  I can hardly wait to learn just what you mean by that.

That you chose to send the Open Letter suggests you are feeling the heat.

I see that as a good sign.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.


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10 comments to Is Mayor Meed Ward feeling the heat and talking about a reset of the Strong Mayor powers – looks that way

  • Anne and Dave Marsden

    Kudo`s in particular to Rory Nisan at Àpril 8, 2024 Committee of the Whole on his position with regard to Jim Thomson complainants` role in democracy and the encouragement to keep on with whatever is needed to keep the Burlington Council a democratic decision maker.

    Here it is for those who missed this:

    CHAIR NISAN: Thank you, City Manager. I don’t see any other comments. I, uh, I, I,
    05:06:00 second your comments, uh, uh, City Manager. And, um, you know, uh, that-, this is why we have these, uh, processes. But it does-, also it takes individuals to, to bring them forward when they have a concern. And, uh, you know, these-, all of these, uh, reports are, are taxpayer-funded and they’re-, and all of these, um, um, individuals who do these reviews are an important part of our, of our, uh, local democratic, uh, uh, environment. LIKE WE, WE NEED, WE NEED THEM and, uh, and so, uh, in this case, um, the, uh, the complaint has been, uh, more or less sustained, and I, and I appreciate that, and it’s not-, it’s definitely a learning opportunity, uh, for everyone going forward. There was also so-, uh, some new case law which I had never heard of before, uh, which was also quite, uh, quite interesting about the role of the procedure by-law. So, um, all of that provides us with a chance to do, to do better in, uh, in the future. And so
    05:07:01 I do want to thank, uh, those who are, um, you know, continuing to pursue what they, what they believe in.

    We must all support democratic decision making the best way we as individuals can and object as best we can when it fails to be such. .

  • Jim Barnett

    It appears that the mayor wants to control the hiring of the city manager and prepare the budget.. I guess we can get rid of the Personnel Department and Finance Department. Democracy is slipping away. It is time to resist.

    • Lynn Crosby

      Agree! We can also get rid of the councillors since she isn’t delegating anything back to them. Her claims about a “cohesive” council are laughable – this literally all proves it’s no such thing. Mayor My Way.

  • Penny

    Pepper as you are aware I never delegate. Some people are better at organizing and I am one of those people. But I urge others who are available and are good at delegating to do so.

    For those of us who don’t delegate I would urge you to send an email to the clerks office, the mayor and all the councillors.

    As someone in the know indicated to me this decision of the mayor to retain the super power regarding the CAO means the following.

    ” Once you have total control of the CAO and delegated all hiring or dismissing of staff, you put fear in the entire organization. TOTAL CONTROL which is what she wants”.

  • Joe Gaetan

    “It has appeared to me to be politically performative to delegate the three powers noted in the legislation, as these can be undelegated at any time.”

    The term” politically performative” is usually used in a pejorative sense. Performative politics is often accompanied by slogans etc.
    Are we to interpret this to mean the Mayor will hang to the three referenced powers?

    Editor’s note: The politically performative phrase raised our eyebrows – what was she talking about was our question.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Damage control. Spin, spin, spin, deflect, confuse, accuse others of “misinformation”, ignore the crux of the matter: it’s undemocratic, period. There is no positive spin on that.

    And the other crux, also ignored: the mass exodus of senior staff and the very real issue of what having these powers causes, even by the fact that one has them and could use them, especially if a mayor was, say, a “my way or the highway” type. Good leaders wouldn’t need nor want any such powers.

  • Jim Thomson

    While the three Mayoral Decisions appear to give the council what they asked for, all they really do is make the City Manager the sock-puppet of the Mayor.

    By retaining the hiring and firing of the City Manager he is an at will employee of the Mayor.

    Talk about performative!

  • Caren

    The Mayor accepted Strong Mayor Powers on a pledge to build 29,000 homes. As of today, none of these homes have been built?? Also, the whole idea of Strong Mayor’s are totally undemocratic. I did not vote for her to have all of these powers in October 2022? Our Mayor can legally and easily give up the Powers requested by our Council members.

    I believe our Mayor just wants the Power and prestige and does not care about what her Residents in Burlington want.

    The Mayor’s letter to Council and her community members, released today at is very telling. She doesn’t care what Burlington residents want, it’s all about her being in control.

    Please sign the Petition which will be part of the Agenda on April 16, 2024:

    Looking forward to the upcoming Council meeting on April 16th!
    Please write to and copy your Ward Council member if you agree with the Mayor delegating Powers back to our Burlington City Council.

  • Penny

    After speaking to some residents it seems that our mayor, according to her “Open Letter to Council and Community” has decided to use the strong mayor powers to have complete control over the new City Manager. A City Manager that was handpicked by the Mayor. How democratic was that?

    It is absolutely imperative that residents delegate at the April 16th Council Meeting.

    Editor’s note: Can we assume you will be delegating?

    • Anne and Dave Marsden

      That seems to be the general consensus. The Mayor couldn’t withstand the temptation to lead the conversation thus her Open letter which has caused nothing but confusion. We think Jim Thomson has called it right but really can’t guarantee that. What we do know is these are not democratic principles at play and we back off at our peril. While we find this very upsetting we believe the Mayor seems to be enjoying the challenge knowing she has been empowered to do whatever she wants whether we meet targets or not.