Speak before council in a deputation/delegation

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| Published , updated March 12, 2024

Many municipalities in Ontario accept applications to speak before council, but they are not required by law to do so in the Municipal Act.

The acceptance and handling of deputations is typically outlined in a municipality’s Procedural Bylaw – which every municipality must have – and governs the calling, place and proceedings of meetings.

What is a deputation/delegation?

A deputation, sometimes called a delegation, is when person(s), group(s), corporation(s), or organization(s) who would like to speak at a council or local board meeting regarding an issue or concern that is important to them or their community, and who would like to share their opinions or point of view with members of council about an item on the meeting’s agenda before a decision is made.

An application requesting to speak before council must typically be submitted to the Municipal Clerk for review a week or so before the council meeting, ideally as soon after the meeting agenda is posted as possible. Presentations are typically limited to 5 to 10 minutes and presented materials will form part of the public record.

NOTE: You can contact members of council by phone, email or mail at any time to ask questions or raise your concerns. Deputations are an official process to have your concerns presented publicly to council on the meeting agenda and in the public record and are not required to contact your elected representatives. For more, check out our Action Library.

How to submit a deputation/delegation request

  1. Watch the meeting agendas for upcoming committee, local board or council meetings so you know when the item on the topic you’re interested in will be discussed.
  2. After the agenda has been published, contact the Municipal Clerk by email or mail to say you’d like to speak to the committee about an item and provide the following:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Subject
  • Agenda item number
  • Detailed summary of your proposed deputation and a copy of any material proposed to be provided to Council (eg. Powerpoint)

To speak about a topic that is not part of an upcoming agenda, write the Clerk’s Office and include:

  • a description of your concern
  • the action you would like City Council to consider

Once determined to be appropriate, any written comments or presentation materials will be distributed by the Clerk to Council and Committee members and published as part of the revised agenda before the meeting.

Some municipalities provide an online form or PDF to fill out.

How to speak before council

During the deputation, the presenter must not:

  • Speak disrespectfully of any person
  • Use obscene or defamatory language, gestures or images
  • Speak on any subject other than the subject for which they have received approval to speak
  • Disobey the rules of procedure or a decision of the Chair or Council
  • Be promotional or for the purpose of generating publicity

Example deputation

Example: Belleville Procedural Bylaw

7.6 Deputations

(1) Persons desiring to be included on the meeting agenda as a Deputation shall contact the office of the Clerk no later than 4:30 p.m. on the Tuesday preceding the date of the next Regular Council Meeting to request to be listed on the meeting agenda as a Deputation, but the Mayor may authorize a Deputation be added to the meeting agenda any time prior to finalization of the meeting agenda.

(2) The number of persons appearing as a Deputation at a Regular Council Meeting shall be limited to no more than three (3) in an effort to ensure that the business of the Corporation as conducted by Council can be carried out in an efficient and effective manner.

(3) Persons wishing to appear as a Deputation and who are not listed on the meeting agenda may appear as a Deputation with support from the majority of the Members present.

(4) Persons appearing as a Deputation shall be limited to a maximum of 10 minutes speaking time, and where a Deputation consists of more than one person, all persons combined shall be limited to a maximum of 10 minutes speaking time, but Council may, by resolution, grant permission to any Deputation to speak for longer than 10 minutes.

(5) During or following a Deputation, Members may ask specific questions relating to the presentation for the purpose of clarification without statement or comment.

(6) Following a Deputation, Council shall adopt a motion:

  • (i) to receive; or
  • (ii) to refer to another item listed on the meeting agenda; or
  • (iii) to refer to a committee or board or City staff for a report; or
  • (iv) to refer to New Business for consideration.
City of Belleville Procedural Bylaw

Municipalities that accept deputations/delegations

Presentations are part of the public record

All meetings are open to members of the public, including the media. Meeting minutes will include the speakers name and the agenda item they spoke to. Meetings may be live streamed, recorded and archived.

What is the public record?

All communications made through the Office of the City Clerk or at a public meeting (City Council, standing Committees, boards and committees) create a record which is kept on file by the municipality, may be viewed by the general public and copies may be released on request through the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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