Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Charter of Rights and Freedoms, municipal law, administrative law, municipal government, public law, the state


Municipal institutions are the forgotten partners in the Canadian confederation. This is true in both political and legal terms. In political terms the agencies of local government are often under-valued. With respect to the law, the municipal level of government has too often been ignored. Both municipal councils and their related boards and tribunals have an important impact on the lives of citizens at the grass roots level. In carrying out their duties, municipal authorities exercise a wide range of discretionary powers and it is becoming increasingly important that they recognize the legal limits on their powers. The first and most significant limitation is that all public authorities must operate within Canada's constitutional framework or their decisions will be legally void and of no effect.

There have been some significant developments in municipal law since the Charter was introduced in 1982, and particularly since the equality provisions came into effect in 1985. However, older aspects of municipal law are still relevant, particularly the jurisdictional issues and the rules of administrative law. Therefore, both the Charter issues and the older constitutional issues are discussed briefly here.