Submit a public petition

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| Published , updated March 12, 2024

Municipalities in Ontario generally support the submission of petitions as a means for public engagement and input into the municipal decision-making process, but they are not required by law to do so in the Municipal Act.

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

What is a petition?

A petition is a formal written request or statement sent to an elected representative, council or local board that is in signed by more than one members of the public in support of the shared cause or concern that is presented to Council on the meeting agenda.

The subject must be within the recipient’s discretion and jurisdiction.

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

How to create a petition

  1. Confirm that municipal governments are responsible for the subject or service in question: Which government is responsible? Municipal vs Provincial vs Federal
  2. Check if your municipality has a petition template (see examples below) or Petition Policy (see examples below).
  3. Collect signatures from interested local residents, each petitioner printing and signing their own name.
  4. Submit the petition to the Municipal Clerk

Petition example

Petition to the Municipal Council of [Municipality Name], Ontario

Subject: Implementation of Enhanced Road Safety Measures on [Specific Street or Area]

Date: [Insert Date]

Mayor and Members of Council:

We, the undersigned residents of [Municipality Name] and the surrounding areas, are writing to bring to your immediate attention a matter of urgent public safety concerning the residents and users of [Specific Street or Area]. It has come to our collective notice that the current state of road safety measures in this area is insufficient to ensure the well-being of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.

Issue: [Briefly describe the specific issue, such as high traffic speed, lack of pedestrian crossings, inadequate lighting, etc. Provide any relevant data or personal experiences that highlight the severity of the issue.]

Impact: [Explain how this issue affects the community, focusing on safety concerns, risk of accidents, impact on children and vulnerable populations, etc.]

Request: In light of the above, we respectfully petition the [Municipality Name] Municipal Council to take the following actions:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive traffic and safety assessment of [Specific Street or Area] to identify critical areas for improvement.
  2. Implement enhanced road safety measures, which may include the installation of speed bumps, additional pedestrian crossings, improved street lighting, and the creation of designated cycling lanes.
  3. Increase enforcement of traffic laws in the area to discourage speeding and other dangerous behaviors.
  4. Engage with the community through public consultations to gather further input and ensure that the proposed measures meet the needs and concerns of local residents.

Justification: We believe that taking these steps will significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in [Specific Street or Area], promoting a safer and more livable community for all. Enhancing road safety measures is not only a matter of public health and safety but also aligns with the broader goals of encouraging active transportation, reducing traffic congestion, and improving the quality of life in our municipality.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your prompt action to address our concerns. We are committed to working collaboratively with the municipal council and staff to find effective solutions that will ensure the safety and well-being of our community.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[Your Name] [Your Address] [Contact Information]

[Signatures of the Petitioners]

Petition templates

Petition policies

What to include in your petition

Petitions should include:

  • Statement of position. Clear statement or position that the signatories are supporting at the top of each page addressed to Council communicating its purpose
  • Particular action(s) requested on the subject matter or concern of the petition
  • Addressed to the council of the municipality
  • Date the petition was started
  • Printed name, full address, email address/phone number, and signature of each petitioner
  • Contact information of the owner/principal representative of the petition, including full name, address, telephone number, and email
  • Clearly disclose on each page that the petition is considered a public document and the personal information of signatories may be made available to the general public
  • Appropriate and respectful in tone
  • Be typed or legibly handwritten in pen

Petitions should not include:

  • Improper or offensive language or information
  • Writing in pencil
  • Change.org petitions are not typically accepted
  • Attached letters, affidavits or other documents

If you have any questions, contact the Municipal Clerk.

How to submit a petition

Send the completed petition to the Municipal Clerk by email, mail or drop it off in person at City Hall or Municipal Office.

It can typically be in one of the following formats:

  • Electronic
  • Spreadsheet (.CSV) file
  • PDF

The Municipal Clerk will accepts petitions related to items on an upcoming meeting agenda. If you wish to submit a petition regarding a matter not listed on an agenda, typically a member of Council must sponsor the item. Contact your ward Councillor directly to make this request.

Accepted petitions are typically included as correspondence on the Council agenda for the next regular Council meeting, or for the meeting at which the subject of the petition is to be discussed.

Petitions are part of the public record

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) – including petitions – are kept on file by the municipality as part of the official public record. It 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.

The Municipal Clerk will typically record:

  • Petition title
  • Who presented the petition
  • Who the petition is from
  • Short summary of the action requested by the petitioners in the Minutes of the Meeting

If Council directs the petition to a particular member of staff, then this will also be recorded in the Minutes, including any direction given to staff.

Ensure that everyone who signs it understands that their personal information will be available to the public and will not be protected.

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