Council Structure - Municipal Government Act

The new Municipal Government Act describes council structure including size, roles and responsibilities of the mayor, deputy mayor and acting mayor as well as restrictions regarding council members being employed by the municipality.


Councils of towns, rural municipalities and the resort municipality will have a mayor and six councillors unless the council passes a bylaw to increase its size to a mayor and eight councillors. For cities, there will be a mayor and eight councillors unless the city’s council passes a bylaw to increase the number of councillors to ten.


The title of chairperson and vice-chairperson are not used in the new Act. Instead, all municipalities will have a mayor and a deputy mayor.

Role of the Mayor

The mayor’s role is to provide leadership to the council and the Chief Administrative Officer of the municipality. The mayor is responsible for presiding over council meetings, performing the duties of a member of council and casting the deciding vote on bylaws and resolutions when there is a tie in the votes cast by the rest of the council. The mayor only votes to break a tie.

Role of the Deputy Mayor

A deputy mayor is selected by the mayor from the members of council. The role of the deputy mayor is to fulfil the duties of a regular council member and to carry out the duties of the mayor if the mayor is absent or incapacitated. A deputy mayor remains in this role until the appointment is withdrawn and another member of council is appointed as the deputy mayor or until the person is no longer a member of council.

Acting Mayor

A council may appoint an acting mayor from its members if the mayor and deputy mayor are unavailable and neither have appointed another member of council to act in their place or if the office of the mayor and deputy mayor are vacant. The councillor appointed as acting mayor remains in the position until the mayor or deputy mayor is available or a new mayor is elected.

Existing Legislation: What’s in Place Currently

The structure of municipal councils varies under the current Acts. The City of Charlottetown must have a mayor and ten councillors, the City of Summerside must have a mayor and eight councillors, and the Towns of Stratford and Cornwall must have a mayor and six councillors each.

All other municipalities are required to have a mayor or chairperson and between three and six councillors. There are exceptions to this rule, with some councils having more than a mayor and six councillors.

The current Acts also differs in the naming of some elected officials. In cities and town there are mayors and deputy mayors, where communities have chairpersons and vice-chairpersons.

Note: This document is prepared by the Municipal Affairs Section of the Department of Communities, Land and Environment for general information purposes. This document should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialized legal or professional advice. 
Published date: 
January 6, 2017
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