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Municipal Service Offices

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Who we are – Where we are – What we do

There are 444 municipalities in Ontario. Each Municipal Services Office (MSO) provides services and advice to municipalities and the general public located within their specific geographic areas.

There are five MSOs of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Housing are located in Kingston, London, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Toronto.

Who we are

MSOs serve as the Ministry’s primary liaison with the municipal sector. Staff come from a number of professional backgrounds, including land use planning, municipal administration and municipal finance. In addition to this experience, staff have the ability to reach ministry experts in most areas of municipal activities when further information is required.

MSO activities contribute to the Ministry’s goal of fostering productive and co-operative provincial-municipal relationships by facilitating direct client contact and outreach, and by building partnerships and local networks.

Local Government and Planning staff provides support and advice to municipalities and the general public in areas of local government and land use planning. Housing staff provides support and advice to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Services Administration Boards on the delivery of affordable housing.

Where we are

Central Municipal Services Office

13th Floor
777 Bay Street
Toronto ON M5G 2E5
Telephone: 416-585-6226 or 1-800-668-0230
Fax: 416-585-6882

Lower Tier, Upper Tier and Single Tier Municipalities (Barrie, Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Muskoka, Niagara, Orillia, Peel, Simcoe, Toronto, York).

Eastern Municipal Services Office

Rockwood House
8 Estate Lane
Kingston ON K7M 9A8
Telephone: 613-545-2100 or 1-800-267-9438
Fax: 613-548-6822

Lower Tier, Upper Tier and Single Tier Municipalities (Belleville, Brockville, Cornwall, Dundas/ Glengarry, Frontenac, Gananoque, Haliburton, Hastings, Kawartha Lakes, Kingston, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Lennox & Addington, Northumberland, Ottawa, Pembroke, Peterborough, Prescott, Prescott-Russell, Prince Edward, Quinte West, Renfrew, Smith Falls and Stormont).

Northern Municipal Services Office (Sudbury)

Suite 401
159 Cedar Street
Sudbury ON P3E 6A5
Telephone: 705-564-0120 or 1-800-461-1193
Fax: 705-564-6863

Districts (Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Sudbury and Timiskaming).

Northern Municipal Services Office (Thunder Bay)

Suite 223
435 James Street South
Thunder Bay ON P7E 6S7
Telephone: 807-475-1651 or 1-800-465-5027
Fax: 807-475-1196

Districts (Kenora, Rainy River and Thunder Bay)

Western Municipal Services Office

2nd Floor
659 Exeter Road
London ON N6E 1L3
Telephone: 519-873-4020 or 1-800-265-4736
Fax: 519-873-4018

Lower Tier, Upper Tier and Single Tier Municipalities (Brant, Brantford, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Guelph, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, London, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford , Perth, St. Thomas, Stratford, Waterloo, Wellington and Windsor).

What we do

Municipal Services Offices also provide local information and policy input on emerging municipal issues and trends to various Ministry divisions and branches.

Staff also communicates the government’s and, more specifically, the Ministry’s priorities by delivering programs, advisory services, and education and training related to municipal management, finance, administration, housing and land use planning in support of strong, safe and healthy communities.

Municipal Services staff field inquiries from municipal staff, councillors, members of the public, local media and from other governmental bodies and agencies. Staff also provides a policy-led 'One Window' planning service that protects provincial interests through provincial input, review, decision-making, and appeals related to land use planning applications. Ministry staff have set a high standard of service and pride themselves on the ability to address the myriad of questions and requests that are received on a daily basis.

Most day-to-day issues that involve municipal matters are directed to the appropriate local government Municipal Advisor, Planner, or Senior Housing Advisor, based on geographic areas. Municipal Services Offices are your connection to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Municipal Housing, and to the Provincial Government on municipal matters. Ministry Staff aim to provide high-quality, timely, customer-oriented service.

Key activities

The offices provide service in four key areas:

  1. Building municipal capacity

    By working with municipal councillors and staff to enhance the capacity of municipalities, service managers and District Social Service Administration Boards to comply with legislation and regulations governing the operation of municipal government; and to use tools and practices already available to them to deliver services and infrastructure more effectively and efficiently. Also, by assisting municipalities to integrate their land-use, infrastructure, financial and service-delivery decisions–and create a mechanism to disseminate this information.

    Ministry staff works with service managers at the local and regional levels to use all tools at their disposal to increase housing affordability; and decrease homelessness.

    This is achieved through:

    • providing training and education on new legislation, regulations, policies and programs - over the telephone, at formal meetings such as Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) zone meetings, annual regional conferences, at various municipal association meetings, and staff workshops;
    • providing advice and technical assistance by responding to local inquiries and meeting directly with municipal council and staff;
    • analyzing municipal financial information returns; identifying and promoting municipal, affordable housing and planning leading practices and approaches, and promoting municipal innovation;
    • promoting local networking;
    • monitoring ongoing municipal capacity; and
    • promoting greater municipal accountability for community planning.
  2. Strategic information

    Staff in the Municipal Services offices collect, analyze and share information on issues facing municipalities. Ministry staff are interested in the innovative ways in which municipalities respond to issues while implementing provincial initiatives and interests.

    Staff also monitors:

    • issues and overall municipal capacity through regular contact with municipal staff, formal and informal meetings and media reports;
    • municipal financial capacity by collecting and reviewing financial information received from municipalities and determining the impact that local decisions may have on municipal budgets and property taxes;
    • local planning capacity;
    • the effectiveness of programs and legislation; and
    • any potential disasters, in order to provide very early notification and to respond to the needs of those affected by a disaster.
  3. Supporting the development of strong communities

    The office supports the development of strong communities by providing assistance, input and advice on land use planning matters to municipalities and other provincial ministries and agencies.

    Under the “One Window Planning System”, the planners:

    • conduct a review and make recommendations on planning applications where the Ministry is the approval authority;
    • promote pre-consultation and provide One Window Planning comments on requested municipal planning applications and official plans, where the Ministry is not the approval authority;
    • participate in Ontario Municipal Board hearings to uphold matters of provincial interest;
    • provide education, training, data and advice to support the land use planning process, including Provincial Policy implementation;
    • promote innovative approaches/practices in land use planning;
    • support provincial initiatives such as the review of the Provincial Policy Statement and provincial plans related to land use planning;
    • administer Planning Board program. There are currently seventeen (17) Planning Boards which perform a variety of land-use planning services within their defined planning areas, such as official plan and zoning by-law administration and land division;
    • make decisions on land division applications in unincorporated areas not within planning board areas; and
    • administer and implement Minister’s Zoning Orders.

    In addition to land use planning activities, the offices support the development of affordable housing. This support includes:

    • in co-operation with others, assisting with the implementation of the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program;
    • sharing leading practices for dealing with housing demands and promoting the recognition of affordable housing policies in official plans; and
    • helping District Social Services Administration Boards and Consolidated Municipal Service Managers to deliver social housing programs.
  4. Building effective provincial municipal relations through outreach and partnerships

    The staff works to build strong provincial-municipal relationships by:

    • maintaining a strong local presence and constructive relationships with municipalities;
    • reaching out to broader public sector stakeholders with the aim of increasing understanding of the municipal sector through education sessions; and
    • developing productive and positive partnerships and relationships with municipal sector organizations and other municipal stakeholders.