Double direct election


In Canada, a double direct election is an election in which an individual is elected to two political offices in one electoral event.[1] The elected individual serves on a regional council and a constituent municipal government within that region. It differs from indirect election in that in a double direct election an individual is automatically elected to two political positions, whereas in an indirect election, candidates in a municipal election must state the intention to also serve on regional council before that election.[2] The double direct election protocol is slightly different in the case of Bowen Island, an Island Municipality within the Islands Trust in BC. There are two ballots, one for municipal council, the other for Islands Trust. Candidates that choose to run for both offices declare that intent. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes for Islands Trust are elected to that body, but only if they are also successful as candidates for the municipal council.


In Ontario, municipalities have legislative authority to define the number of councillors representing its council.[3] The council of a regional municipality, a geopolitical planning body consisting of multiple municipalities, determines the number of councillors that will represent the regional municipality, and the number of councillors from each of its constituent municipalities.[1] For many multi-tier Ontario municipalities, individuals are elected as representatives for two tiers of government in one election.[4] In other upper tier councils, a mixed system is used by which some representatives are directly elected, and others become councillors by virtue of having been elected to a lower-tier municipal council as a mayor, reeve, or other council position.[5]

In the past, this was the most common system used for electing representatives to upper-tier councils in Ontario.[6] It was in use for the election of councillors to the Metropolitan Toronto city council until 1985, when the city switched to using direct election of councillors.[6]

In the Regional Municipality of York, members of York Regional Council consist of a subset of individuals from those elected to office in each of the nine constituent municipalities (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Newmarket, Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Whitchurch-Stouffville).[7] These include the mayor of each municipality, and an additional eleven regional councillors from the more populous municipalities—four from Markham, three from Vaughan, two from Richmond Hill and one each from Georgina and Newmarket, who are elected via double direct election.[7][1]

In 1997, the Government of Ontario passed the "Regional Municipality of Waterloo Amendment Act, 1997", enabling the seven municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo to elect individuals to both municipal council and Waterloo Regional Council for the 1997 municipal elections.[8] (The city of Kitchener implemented the change for the 2000 municipal election.[8])

In 2013, the city of St. Catharines considered a change in governance to a double-direct model, in which councillors elected to St. Catharines City Council would also automatically become councillors on Niagara Regional Council, the council for the Regional Municipality of Niagara.[9] It deferred the decision until 2015.[10] The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce states that this will create a "more coordinated, efficient and representative public administration".[9]

Among councils fully or partially elected by double direct election are Durham Regional Council, Peel Regional Council, York Regional Council, and the councils for the Regional Municipality of Halton and the District Municipality of Muskoka.[11]

British ColumbiaEdit

In British Columbia, the electorate of Saanich and Victoria elect councillors who serve municipal council and a regional district council (both for the Capital Regional District).[12]

The municipality of Bowen Island elects two councillors to both municipal council and the Islands Trust council during municipal elections.[13] One of those double-direct elected Islands Trustees could be the mayor of the municipality.


In the paper Regional Peculiarities of the Municipal Reform in the Period of Transition, the authors state that double direct election results in a parochial council less interested in regional matters, as most "try to extract as much as they can for their lower tier municipality",[5] and that the upper tier council is less accountable to the electorate.[14] If the electorate is discontented with a representative's performance at the local or municipal level, but happy with performance at other level, it cannot retain that councillor at one level but not the other.[14]

The authors also state that councils elected by direct election tend to be more progressive,[5] and that they provide for stronger communication between municipal councils and regional councils, as representatives of the latter are also members of the former.[14]

The authors of Representation on Municipal Councils in Ontario from Brock University state that double direct election presents legal and ethical issues because members must act in the best interest of the regional council for regional matters, but must also address local matters relevant to the lower-tier municipal council.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Williams 2012, p. 5.
  2. ^ White 1990, p. 146.
  3. ^ Williams 2012, p. 6.
  4. ^ Courtney & Smith 2010, p. 142.
  5. ^ a b c Starodubrovskaya et al., p. 239, 4.3.2 Two Tier Structure.
  6. ^ a b Rothblatt & Sancton 1998, p. 180.
  7. ^ a b Regional Municipality of York.
  8. ^ a b Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Regional Municipality of Waterloo Amendment Act, 1997.
  9. ^ a b Mwanzia 2013, p. 1.
  10. ^ Regional Municipality of Niagara.
  11. ^ Corbett & Hagar, p. 4–5.
  12. ^ Union of British Columbia Municipalities, p. 15, Appointment of Municipal Director.
  13. ^ Islands Trust.
  14. ^ a b c Starodubrovskaya et al., p. 256, 4.3.3 Large Single Tier Structure.
  15. ^ Corbett & Hagar, p. 3.


  • Corbett, Margaret; Hagar, Doug (September 2011), Representation on Municipal Councils in Ontario (Policy Brief 10), Brock University, retrieved 20 January 2015
  • Courtney, John; Smith, David, eds. (2010). The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics. Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195335354. LCCN 2009023189.
  • Mwanzia, Kithio (August 2013). "Modernizing governance in Niagara for the 21st century". Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  • Rothblatt, Donald N.; Sancton, Andrew (1998). Metropolitan governance revisited: American/Canadian intergovernmental perspectives. Institute of Governmental Studies Press, University of California. ISBN 9780877723813.
  • Starodubrovskaya, Irina; Slavgorodskaya, Margarita; Letunova, Tatiana; Mironova, Nina (2007), Regional Peculiarities of the Municipal Reform in the Period of Transition, Consortium for Economic Policy Research and Advice, SSRN 2109234
  • White, Graham, ed. (1990). The Government and Politics of Ontario (4th ed.). Nelson Canada. ISBN 9780176034832.
  • "Island municipalities, restructure studies and referenda". Islands Trust. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  • Williams, Robert J. (November 2012). Interim Report: 2012 Ward Boundary Review (PDF) (Report). City of Markham. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  • "Orders of the day". Ontario Hansard. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 11 June 1997. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  • "Council Business Plan". Regional Municipality of Niagara. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  • "Council". Regional Municipality of York. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  • "Enhancing the Tools for Problem Solving in Regions" (PDF). Regional District Task Force. Union of British Columbia Municipalities. January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)