How Hamilton mayor used her strong mayor powers so far


Published October 12, 2023 at 11:39 am

Hamilton City Hall city council politics

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath has used her strong mayor powers twice so far.

The first instance was on Aug. 18 to give written approval of bylaws passed at the council meeting that day.

The second time she used it was on Aug. 31 when she directed City staff to prepare the 2024 budget for presentation to council.

Siri Agrell, deputy chief of staff at the Office of the Mayor, said it was used in such a “boring way.”

For the Aug. 31 use of the powers, Agrell said “it’s the default responsibility of Mayors to prepare a budget” under the Strong Mayor legislation.

Like other mayors across the province, Agrell said Horwath directed the process back to staff because she didn’t wish to prepare the budget on her own.

“Mayor Horwath believes in a transparent, collaborative approach to government and it was important to her that important budget decisions were made by council, with public input, following the regular process,” she said in an email to “To that end, she directed the process for the 2024 Budget back to staff to prepare a budget for Council’s consideration, with a few directions that she believes will make a real difference as we face a really difficult financial situation.”

Agrell said Horwath’s role in the budget process will be the same as other councillors. She added that the mayor “will work to ensure the tax impact on Hamilton residents is reduced while excellent service delivery continues.”

In the mayoral directive, Horwath provided a number of directions, including asking City staff to prepare a budget that recognizes “the high cost of living in an inflationary time, that finance staff present a budget for consideration that reduces the burden on residential property taxes by prioritizing the utilization of debt and emergency reserves while responsibly maintaining the city’s credit rating.”

She also directed City staff to present “a budget review timeline that is streamlined, accessible, prioritizes public engagement and promotes transparency.” 

As for the first time she used the powers on Aug. 18, Agrell said under the Strong Mayor legislation, the mayor has a monthly obligation to confirm all decisions of council.

“So after each Council meeting, she must sign the bylaws passed by council,” Agrell said.

The Aug. 18 item has her required signature of council decisions from that month.

She said another item will be added soon reflecting the mayor’s bylaw signing for September.

The mayor’s use of the powers will be posted here.

The province expanded the strong mayor powers, which took effect on July 1, to Hamilton and 25 other municipalities. The province said the moves will support its commitment to increasing the housing supply by 1.5 million homes by Dec. 31. In addition, it said it will help cut red tape for key municipal-provincial priorities such as transit and infrastructure.

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