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Municipal restructuring refers to a variety of activities that may be responses to changing municipal responsibilities and issues related to growth.  The principal forms of municipal restructuring activities are annexations and amalgamations.  Annexations alter municipal boundaries by, for example, moving jurisdiction for land from one municipality to another.  In northern Ontario, annexation also refers to municipal boundary changes that result from transferring adjacent unincorporated territory to the jurisdiction of a municipality.  Amalgamations are mergers of neighbouring municipalities.

The Municipal Act, 2001 (sections 171 to 186) sets out a process for locally developed proposals for municipal restructuring which are implemented through a Minister’s order, at the Minister’s discretion.  Municipalities that have been created or restructured through special legislation (i.e. Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Greater Sudbury, Haldimand County, or Norfolk County and regional municipalities) may use the Municipal Act, 2001 process only for annexations considered minor by the Minister (e.g. boundary adjustments).