Local Government

 Image of  two hands with a family of paper people  inside the hands

What is Local Government?

Local or municipal governments are the closest level of government to our communities, and serve two purposes: 

  1. Provide administration in supplying goods and services;
  2. Represent and involve citizens to determine specific local public needs and how they can be met.

 How Does it Affect Your Life?

When you think about an average day in your life, do you use any of the following services?

  • Water (drink, wash, shower, flush toilets)
  • Sidewalks and roads for walking, cycling or driving to school
  • Parking in lots or on the street
  • Trails and parks to enjoy a relaxing walk or hike, playing baseball, tennis etc.
  • Waterfront (swimming, canoeing, kayaking, swimming lessons)
  • Recreation Centre (pickle ball, public skating, weddings or gathering)
  • Attend special events such as Music on the Barge, Car & Boat Shows, Opera House show.
  • Recreation programs and activities (fitness classes, ballroom dance, belly dancing, Yoga, Zumba)
  • Rules for what can be built on land all over the Town
  • Protection and improvements of the community's properties


The Town of Gravenhurst operates within a two-level system. Gravenhurst is the lower-level government and the District Municipality of Muskoka is the upper-level. The Town operates under the authority of various Acts, but especially the Municipal Act. This Act gives the power to provide services as seen needed for the public. 

Gravenhurst has authority to pass rules, called by-laws about the following subjects:

  • Local municipal structure
  • Responsibility and openness, of staff, operations and local boards
  • Management of your tax dollars
  • Town owned buildings roads, parks, equipment, vehicle owned to provide required services
  • Economic, social and environmental well-being of the town
  • Health, safety and protection of all persons and property

The Town may also pass by-laws respecting matters within the following areas unless the upper-tier has assumed responsibility (*) or there may be a shared responsibility:

  • Highways (including parking and traffic on roads within its geographical jurisdiction)
  • Transportation systems
  • Waste management*
  • Public utilities (water, sewer)*
  • Culture, parks, recreation and heritage
  • Drainage and flood control (except storm sewers)
  • Structures (fences and signs)
  • Parking
  • Animals
  • Economic development services
  • Business licensing

For further information on local government in Ontario, please visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Housing


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