The City of Toronto Act is the name of a series of different acts of parliament that have governed the organization and political powers of the city since Toronto's original incorporation as a city in 1834.
The Incorporation of the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, was a legislative act creating the City of Toronto from the unincorporated town of York. This allowed for the creation of the local government or city council. The act was transferred onto the succeeding governments of Canada West in 1840 and Ontario in 1867. The incorporation remained in effect throughout Toronto's mergers with other cities and towns within southern York County until the creation of Metropolitan Toronto in 1954.
The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act was a provincial act passed on April 2, 1953, to coordinate the services in the various municipalities of southern York County. The southern municipalities – East York, Etobicoke, Forest Hill, Leaside, Long Branch, Mimico, New Toronto, North York, Scarborough, Swansea, Toronto, Weston, and York – were separated from York County and organized under a new regional federation, named the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (commonly known as "Metro Toronto").
The act went into effect on April 15, 1953, and the federation's taxation and legislative powers took effect on January 1, 1954. The federation was governed by a council made up of representatives of the member municipalities and a chairman to oversee the council. The first chairman was Fred Gardiner, appointed by the Ontario provincial government. Subsequent chairmen were selected by the council itself and later directly elected.
On January 1, 1967, seven of the thirteen municipalities were absorbed into the remaining six federation members: Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, East York, York, and Scarborough. The Metropolitan Toronto Act was revised in 1990 and finally repealed in 1997 with the amalgamation of the Metro Toronto government and the governments of the municipalities within.
In 1997, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario enacted a law to amalgamate the Metro Toronto government and the six municipalities within the Metro Toronto boundaries into an enlarged City of Toronto. A referendum in the six constituent municipalities showed residents opposed the merger by a ratio of more than three to one. However, municipal governments in Canada are subject to their respective provincial governments; thus, governing Progressive Conservatives could move forward with the merger despite the referendum, which they did. The act took effect on January 1, 1998.
On December 14, 2005, the first reading of Bill 53 was given in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Also known as the Stronger City of Toronto for a Stronger Ontario Act, 2006, it enacted the new City of Toronto Act, 2006, as well as amended and repealed various public acts related to Toronto, and repealed various private acts also related to the city. The bill received its second reading on April 10, 2006, and was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government, which returned it to the legislature on May 30, 2006. On June 12, 2006, the bill received its third reading and royal assent after a 58–20 vote.
This law permitted the Toronto government to enter into agreements with other governments and increased the scope for the city government to raise revenue. Tax powers in Canada are defined by the constitution and restrict certain powers of direct taxation only to the federal government.
The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 58; the nays are 20.
The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.