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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Municipal-Related Acts (Ontario)

(current to 15 September 2016)
Note Re Application of the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act

These two Acts set out the majority of Ontario statute law relating to Ontario municipalities. While they address some of the older, traditional law respecting nuisance domestic animals (ie. dogs), these are domestic animals and thus not within the purview of this module. The simple provisions that do have conceivable application to wild animals are discussed below.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
The full current text of these Acts and their Regulations may be viewed at the Ontario statute website.


A simple by-law authority over animals is located in both the generic Municipal Act, 2001 ('MA') and the specific City of Toronto Act, 2006 ('CTA'). Ontario municipalities now may [MA 10(2)9, 11(3)9; CTA 8(2)9]:

"... pass by-laws respecting ... animals."

This broad by-law authority will certainly be interpreted as encompassing the traditional municipal jurisdiction over nuisance animals and collection of strays, but the way is also clear for the adoption by municipalities of a broad 'animal-welfare' purpose authority.

In fact, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act ('OSPCAA') (see that module), anticipates this interpretation with the following provision:
In the event of a conflict between a provision of this Act or of a regulation made under this Act and of a municipal by-law pertaining to the welfare of or the prevention of cruelty to animals, the provision that affords the greater protection to animals shall prevail.
MA and CTA authority to pass by-laws includes the authority to both regulate and prohibit the governed activities altogether [MA 8(3)(a), CTA 8(3)(a)], and to pass by-laws licensing them [MA 8(3)(c), CTA 8(3)(c)]. In addition, where animal use take the form of a "business" [as that term is defined at MA 150 and CTA 85 to include "exhibitions, concerts, festivals and other organized public amusements held for profit or otherwise"] then both the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act allow municipal licensing of activities such as circuses.

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