Find out how and why municipalities change their geographical boundaries.
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Municipal restructuring is a process municipalities can use to change their geographical boundaries. The most common forms of municipal restructuring are:
Annexations move jurisdiction for land from one municipality to another. In northern Ontario, annexation also refers to municipal boundary changes where territory without municipal organization comes under the jurisdiction of a neighbouring municipality.
Amalgamations merge neighbouring municipalities into a new municipality.
Municipal restructuring can also include:
- establishing a municipality
- dissolving a municipality
- changing a municipality’s association with an upper-tier municipality, for example, when a lower-tier becomes a single-tier municipality
Municipalities may restructure to:
- accommodate future growth
- combine resources and build capacity
- realign a boundary that passes through or is adjacent to a road or building
The restructuring process
The municipal restructuring process is outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001 (sections 171 to 173) and provides for how to develop and submit a restructuring proposal to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Municipal restructuring proposals are developed locally and implemented by Minister’s order, at the Minister’s discretion.
Some municipalities, including regional municipalities and cities like Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa, have been created or restructured through special legislation. These municipalities may only use the Municipal Act, 2001 process for minor boundary adjustments.
Municipal annexations and amalgamations that have occurred since 1996 are reported in the municipal restructuring activity summary table. It is updated whenever municipalities restructure and includes the:
- names of the municipalities affected
- effective date of the restructuring order
- date the order was published in the Ontario Gazette
The Changing Shape of Ontario
An Archives of Ontario exhibit about changes to Ontario's borders. It includes maps, tables and links to information regarding provincial and municipal boundary changes.
Natural Resources Canada - Geomatics Canada
The Canadian Geographical Names Data Base includes official names for mapping and charting, gazetteer production, internet reference, and other geo-referenced digital systems.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has information on municipal governments.
The Ontario Gazette
The Government of Ontario’s official publication for legislative decisions, proclamations of new statutes, regulations made under Ontario statutes, and notices that must be made public.