How are we organized – a correction on the corporate side

September 26, 2012


It was recently brought to my attention that an organizational chart for the City of Guelph had been made available on the Guelph Civic League website.

Unfortunately, it is actually quite incorrect and reflects a common misunderstanding of municipal governance. It would be fair criticism by the Guelph Civic League that our organizational chart has not been made accessible by us and I thank the Guelph Civic League for trying to correct this.

So let me start with the position of Mayor. 

While it is correct that the Municipal Act notes that the Mayor, as the head of Council, is “to act as chief executive officer of the municipality” (along with several other duties), the Act goes on to note that the role of Mayor as chief executive officer (CEO) is scoped to the following duties:

a)      uphold and promote the purposes of the municipality;

b)      promote public involvement in the municipality’s activities;

c)      act as the representative of the municipality both within and outside the municipality, and promote the municipality locally, nationally and internationally; and

d)     participate in and foster activities that enhance the economic, social and environmental well-being of the municipality and its residents.

The traditional role of a CEO in a private corporation – to manage the administration – is assigned to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) in the Council-Manager model under which the Corporation of the City of Guelph operates and provincial legislation.  The duties and accountability of the CAO to Council are more explicitly described in the by-law appointing her.

 A Mayor has fundamentally three roles:

  • as a member of Council (expressed mostly Council’s Standing Committee meetings and when a final vote is taken i.e. the Mayor is one vote of thirteen)
  • as the head of Council
  •  as CEO as scoped by the Municipal Act

City Council hires one person – the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).  As such Council is responsible for the performance of the CAO.  The CAO is responsible for the performance of the organization.  The CAO reports directly to Council.  The Executive Team (comprised of the Chief Financial Officer and four Executive Directors) report to the CAO. 

You can read more about the Executive Team, who they are and what services fall under their responsibility by clicking here.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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