Every four years, voters across Ontario elect municipal councillors and school board trustees.
The Province of Ontario sets out common rules that all candidates and voters must follow. However, municipalities are responsible for conducting elections to their council and for conducting the election of school trustees to Ontario’s school boards. This guide contains information about the rules that are the same for all municipal elections, such as who is eligible to run for office, and rules about campaign spending.
Your municipality may have specific rules on issues such as:
- where and when election signs may be displayed
- whether campaign activities may occur on municipal property
- whether those who make contributions to candidates may receive a rebate
Contact your municipal clerk if you have questions about the election in your municipality.
To learn more about the duties of municipal councillors and the role of council, please see the Ontario Municipal Councillor’s Guide.
The municipal clerk
Every municipality has a municipal clerk who is in charge of running the election.
Contact the municipal clerk if you are interested in becoming a candidate. You must file any election forms, such as the nomination form and campaign financial statements, with your municipal clerk. The clerk is also responsible for providing information about spending limits and filing deadlines to candidates.
If your municipality does not have a website you could visit or contact your municipality’s offices for more information.
Public health and safety at the voting place
The municipal clerk is responsible for setting up and running the voting places used in a municipal election. The clerk must follow any provincial or local public health measures that are in effect. They may also put in place additional procedures that they consider necessary for conducting the election. If you have questions about public health and safety at the voting place, you should contact your municipal clerk.
Emergency declaration by the clerk
If the municipal clerk believes that circumstances have arisen that prevent the election from being conducted appropriately, they may declare an emergency. This declaration is specific to the election and separate from an emergency that may be declared by the municipality or the province.
Once the clerk has declared an emergency, they can decide what arrangements to make to allow the election to proceed appropriately. The arrangements that the clerk makes will depend on the nature of the emergency.
If your municipal clerk has declared an emergency in relation to an election or by-election in your municipality, you should contact the clerk for information about the arrangements that they have put in place and how those arrangements may affect voting and campaigning.