Learn more about municipal elections

On this page

Role of the City Clerk in administering municipal elections

Municipal elections in Ontario, including the City of Ottawa’s, are governed by the provincial Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (the MEA) which provides rules for the administration of elections. The MEA expressly states that the City Clerk, and by extension the Elections Office, is responsible for the preparation and conduct of municipal elections. As such, staff are not in a position to interpret the legislation, provide advice to candidates or third party advertisers, nor investigate or review any campaign related matters.

Reporting campaign concerns or complaints 

In accordance with the MEA, neither the City Clerk nor any other City employee have a role in investigating concerns related to third party advertising campaigns. This statutory oversight and investigatory role lies with the Election Compliance Audit Committee (ECAC). The ECAC is a statutory body responsible for reviewing and making decisions on applications for municipal election campaign finance compliance audits, and on reports from the City Clerk regarding “apparent contraventions” of contribution limits prescribed by the MEA resulting from the regular municipal election or any by-election held during the term of office for the City Council for which the Committee was appointed. 

For more information on ECAC, visit ottawa.ca/ecac.

Reporting election sign concerns or complaints

By-law and Regulatory Services is responsible for the enforcement of the City’s Signs on City Roads By-law and Temporary Signs on Private Property By-law. Any concerns or complaints regarding election signs should be directed to 3-1-1.

Interfering with or damaging election signs is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Individuals that witness election sign tampering can contact the Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222. Owners of election signs that are tampered with can report the incidents online at ottawapolice.ca or through the Police Reporting Unit at 613-236-1222, extension 7300.

For more information on elections signs, visit ottawa.ca/vote.

Key dates - 2022 Municipal Elections

May 2, 2022

  • First day for candidates to file their nomination forms for the office of Mayor, Councillor, or School Board Trustee. A candidate’s campaign period begins once their nomination forms have been filed, meaning they may begin accepting contributions and spending money on their campaign.
  • First day for an individual, corporation, or trade union to file a notice of registration as a third party advertiser. The campaign period for a third party advertiser begins once their registration form has been filed, meaning they may begin accepting contributions and spending money on their campaign.
  • The Who is running in my ward? search tool is available, allowing electors to find their ward and which candidates are running in their ward, until Voting Day on October 24, 2022.

August 19, 2022

  • Candidates have until 2 pm to file, change office, or withdraw their nomination forms.

August 22, 2022

  • Last day for the City Clerk to certify candidate nomination forms.

September 1, 2022

  • Copies of the Voters’ List are available to certified candidates upon written request.
  • The Am I on the Voters’ List? search tool is available, allowing electors to check if they are registered to vote and see how their information is currently presented on the Voters’ List. Electors may use this tool from September 1 to September 16 at 4:30 pm to submit an application requesting that their information be updated or that their name be added or removed from the Voters’ List.
    • Electors may also submit a paper application requesting that their information be updated or that their name be added or removed from the Voters’ List.
    • Electors may still submit applications to update or add their name to the Voters’ List at their voting place.
  • The Application for special mail in ballot tool is available. Electors may use this tool from September 1 to September 16 at 4:30 pm to submit an application requesting to vote by special mail-in ballot.
    • Electors may also submit an application form by mail or email requesting a special mail-in ballot.
  • The Where do I vote? search tool is available, allowing electors to check the voting dates, times, and locations that are available.

September 9, 2022

  • First day an election sign can be placed on private property and public property.

September 16, 2022

  • The online Revision Period for the Voters’ List ends at 4:30 pm.
  • The Application Period to receive a special mail-in ballot ends at 4:30 pm.

September 25, 2022

  • Certified candidates that received a copy of the original Voters’ List will be provided with the interim list of changes to the Voters’ List by this date.
  • Final expense limit certificates to be provided to candidates and third party advertisers by this date.
  • The Elections Office will begin mailing Special Mail-in Ballot Voter Kits to the electors who have registered to receive a special mail-in ballot. Completed special mail-in ballots must be received at the Elections Office or Client Service Centres by 4:30 pm on October 24.

September 24, 25, 26, and 27, 2022

  • Special Advance Vote Day opportunities for electors to cast their ballot between 10 am and 8 pm.

October 7, 2022

  • Advance Vote Day opportunity for electors to cast their ballot between 10 am and 8 pm.

October 14, 2022

  • Advance Vote Day opportunity for electors to cast their ballot between 10 am and 8 pm.

October 21, 2022

  • An individual, corporation, or trade union has until 4:30 pm to file or withdraw their notice of registration as a third party advertiser.

October 24, 2022

  • Voting Day.
  • With the exception of institutions and retirement homes that may have reduced opening hours, voting places will open at 10 am and close at 8 pm.
  • Completed special mail-in ballots must be received at the Elections Office or Client Service Centres by 4:30 pm.

October 27, 2022

  • All election signs on private and public property must be removed (72 hours after Voting Day) by 11:59 pm.

October 28, 2022

  • The City Clerk is expected to declare the results of the 2022 Municipal Elections official.

January 3, 2023

  • Campaign period ends for candidates and third party advertisers, meaning they cannot accept any contributions or incur any expenses.
  • Candidates or third party advertisers that wish to extend their campaign, due to a deficit, must file a Notice of Extension of Campaign Period – Form 6 by 4:30 pm.

March 1, 2023

  • Last day for the City Clerk to provide candidates and third party advertisers with notice of the financial filing requirements and penalties.

March 30, 2023

  • Last day for a candidate or third party advertiser to apply to Superior Court of Justice to extend the time to file their initial financial statement.

March 31, 2023

By 2 pm:

  • Last day for candidates and third party advertisers to file an initial financial statement and auditor’s’ report, if required, for the reporting period ending January 3, 2023.
    • Note: An auditor’s report is required if the candidate is participating in the Contribution Rebate Program. An auditor’s report is also required for candidates and third party advertisers if the total contributions received, and total expenses incurred in the election campaign up to the end of the relevant reporting period are each equal to or more than $10,000.
  • Last day for a candidate or third party advertiser to notify the City Clerk, in writing, of a filing extension received from the Superior Court of Justice.

April 3, 2023

  • First day an elector can apply for a compliance audit of a candidate or third party advertiser’s initial campaign finances, even if the candidate or third party advertiser has not filed a financial statement.

May 1, 2023

By 2 pm:

  • Last day for a candidate or third party advertiser to file an initial financial statement and auditor’s report, if required, and pay the $500 late filing fee.
    • Note: An auditor’s report is required if the candidate is participating in the Contribution Rebate Program. An auditor’s report is also required for candidates and third party advertisers if the total contributions received, and total expenses incurred in the election campaign up to the end of the relevant reporting period are each equal to or more than $10,000.
  • Penalties take effect at 2:01 pm.

June 29, 2023

  • Last day for an elector to apply for a compliance audit of a candidate or third party advertiser’s initial campaign finances, even if the candidate or third party advertiser has not filed a financial statement.
    • If a candidate or third party advertiser files their initial financial statement within the 30-day grace period (which begins on March 31, 2023 at 2:01 pm and ends on May 1, 2023, at 2:00 pm), the 90-day period to apply for a compliance audit begins the day after they filed their initial financial statement. These dates will be posted on ottawa.ca/vote as required. 
    • If a candidate or third party advertiser received a filing extension from the Superior Court of Justice, the 90-day period to apply for a compliance audit begins the day after the extension expires. These dates will be posted on ottawa.ca/vote as required.

June 30, 2023

  • Campaign period ends for candidates and third party advertisers that extended their campaign, meaning they cannot accept any contributions or incur any expenses.

August 30, 2023

  • Last day for the City Clerk to provide candidates and third party advertisers with notice of the filing requirements and penalties for supplementary financial statements and auditor’s reports.

September 28, 2023

  • Last day for a candidate or third party advertiser to apply to Superior Court of Justice to extend the time to file their supplementary financial statement.

September 29, 2023

By 2 pm:

  • Last day for those who filed a Notice of Extension of Campaign Period - Form 6 to extend the campaign period to file a supplementary financial statement and auditors’ report, if required, for the reporting period ending June 30, 2023.
    • Note: An auditor’s report is required if the candidate is participating in the Contribution Rebate Program. An auditor’s report is also required for candidates and third party advertisers if the total contributions received, and total expenses incurred in the election campaign up to the end of the relevant reporting period are each equal to or more than $10,000.
  • Last day for a candidate or third party advertiser to notify the City Clerk of a filing extension received from the Superior Court of Justice.

October 2, 2023

  • First day an elector can apply for a compliance audit of a candidate or third party advertiser’s supplementary campaign finances, if required, even if the candidate or third party advertiser has not filed a financial statement.

October 30, 2023

By 2 pm:

  • Last day for a candidate or third party advertiser to file a supplementary financial statement and auditor’s report, if required, and pay $500 late filing fee.
    • Note: An auditor’s report is required if the candidate is participating in the Contribution Rebate Program. An auditor’s report is also required for candidates and third party advertisers if the total contributions received, and total expenses incurred in the election campaign up to the end of the relevant reporting period are each equal to or more than $10,000.
  • Penalties take effect at 2:01 pm.

December 28, 2023

  • Last day for an elector to apply for a compliance audit on a candidate or third party advertiser’s supplementary campaign finances, if required, even if the candidate or third party advertiser has not filed a financial statement.
    • If a candidate or third party advertiser files their initial financial statement within the 30-day grace period (which begins on September 29 at 2:01 pm and ends on October 30, 2023, at 2:00 pm), the 90-day period to apply for a compliance audit begins the day after they filed their initial financial statement. These dates will be posted on ottawa.ca/vote as required. 
    • If a candidate or third party advertiser received a filing extension from the Superior Court of Justice, the 90-day period to apply for a compliance audit begins the day after the extension expires. These dates will be posted on ottawa.ca/vote as required. 

New ward boundaries for the 2022-2026 Term of Council

The City of Ottawa has new ward boundaries for the 2022-2026 Term of Council. There is one new ward and new names for six existing wards.

During its Wednesday, October 13, 2021 meeting, City Council considered the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 - Implementation Report regarding the implementation of the new ward boundary structure established through the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 and subsequent order from the Ontario Land Tribunal.

For more information on the new ward boundaries, visit the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 page.

New ward boundaries 
Ward number NEW Ward name (effective November 15, 2022) Previous ward name
Ward 1 Orléans East-Cumberland Orléans
Ward 2 Orléans West-Innes Innes
Ward 3 Barrhaven West Barrhaven
Ward 4 Kanata North Kanata North
Ward 5 West Carleton-March West Carleton-March
Ward 6 Stittsville Stittsville
Ward 7 Bay Bay
Ward 8 College College
Ward 9 Knoxdale-Merivale Knoxdale-Merivale
Ward 10 Gloucester-Southgate Gloucester-Southgate
Ward 11 Beacon Hill-Cyrville Beacon Hill-Cyrville
Ward 12 Rideau-Vanier Rideau-Vanier
Ward 13 Rideau-Rockcliffe Rideau-Rockcliffe
Ward 14 Somerset Somerset
Ward 15 Kitchissippi Kitchissippi
Ward 16 River River
Ward 17 Capital Capital
Ward 18 Alta Vista Alta Vista
Ward 19 Orléans South-Navan Cumberland
Ward 20 Osgoode Osgoode
Ward 21 Rideau-Jock Rideau-Goulbourn
Ward 22 Riverside South-Findlay Creek Gloucester-South Nepean
Ward 23 Kanata South Kanata South
Ward 24 Barrhaven East Not applicable – New ward

Candidate election campaign advertisements

An election campaign advertisement is an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic, or other medium that has the purpose of promoting or supporting the election of a candidate. All election campaign advertisements purchased by or under the direction of a candidate must clearly identify the candidate.

Candidates may only advertise once they have filed their nomination with the City Clerk.

Mandatory information for broadcasters and publishers

Candidates must provide the following information to the broadcaster or publisher in writing:

  1. The name of the candidate.
  2. The name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the candidate.

Broadcasters and publishers are prohibited from running an election campaign advertisement unless the above-noted information is provided.

The broadcaster or publisher of an election campaign advertisement is required to retain the following information for a period of four years after the date the advertisement appears:

  • The mandatory information that is required for broadcasters and publishers (the name of the candidate and the contact information for the person who deals with the broadcaster or publisher);
  • A copy of the advertisement, or the means of reproducing it for inspection; and
  • A statement of the charge made for its appearance.

The broadcaster or publisher must also permit the public to inspect these records during normal business hours.

In addition, broadcasters and service providers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Guidelines for TV and radio broadcasters and TV service providers during an election, as set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Broadcasters, service providers, and on-air personalities should also be aware of the Guideline’s recommendation that any on-air personalities who become candidates “should be removed from their on-air duties during the election period or on the date their candidacies are announced, whichever is later”. “Election period” is defined in the Radio Regulations, 1986 and the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, and in the case of a municipal election, it is defined as “the period beginning two months before the date of the election and ending on the date the election is held”. For the 2022 Municipal Elections, the election period begins on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 and ends on Monday, October 24, 2022.

Campaign and sign rules for candidates and third party advertisers

Election signs on private property

Temporary Signs on Private Property By-law - City of Ottawa By-law No. 2004-239, as amended, Section 21 states:

  1. No person or entity shall place or cause to be placed or allow to remain placed an election sign more than forty-five (45) days immediately preceding the election date in a municipal election, or, in the case of a federal election or provincial election, the sign may be placed upon issuance of the relevant Writ.
  2. Every election sign together with its appurtenances shall be removed from the premise within seventy-two (72) hours following the election date.
  3. No person shall place an election sign on private property that,
    1. is within three metres (3m) of an intersection,
    2. is within fifty centimetres (50cm) of a sidewalk, or where there is no sidewalk, within two metres (2m) of the roadway or within fifty centimetres (50cm) of the edge of a shoulder where such exists,
  4. Sign dimension requirements contained in this by-law shall not apply to an election sign.

Election signs on public property

Signs on City Roads By-law - City of Ottawa By-law No. 2003-520, as amended, Section 10 states:

  1. Despite Sections 4 and 5 hereof, election signs may be placed on an inner boulevard, provided that,
    1. the sign is not placed more than forty-five (45) days immediately preceding the election date in a municipal election or, in the case of a federal election or provincial election, the sign may be placed upon issuance of the relevant Writ;
    2. no sign is placed within fifty centimetres (50) cm of a sidewalk, or where there is no sidewalk, within two metres (2m) of the roadway or within fifty centimetres (50cm) of the edge of a shoulder where such exists; and
    3. the sign and its appurtenances are removed within seventy-two (72) hours following an election date.
  2. Dimension requirements contained in this by-law shall not apply to an election sign.

Note: It is forbidden to use election signs that constitute a safety hazard or utilize any sign type identified as a prohibited sign in any of the above-listed by-laws.

Election signs on provincial highways

Please contact the Ministry of Transportation for regulations governing election signs on provincial highways.

Election signs on National Capital Commission lands

Please contact the National Capital Commission for regulations governing election signs on its lands.

Election signs and campaigning on transit property

Please refer to the City’s Transit By-Law, for regulations for election signs and campaigning on transit property. OC Transpo is a federally regulated operation due to its interprovincial routes.

Campaign material around a voting place

When a voting place is located within public premises, the entire property of the voting place and all the boundaries associated with it are considered part of that voting place.

Where a voting place is located in a multi-residential building (e.g. apartment, condominium, university residence, retirement residence, long-term care facility, etc.) the boundaries do not include any residences on the property.

On both public and private premises, "premises" includes the parking lot, adjoining fences, and adjacent road allowances. The City of Ottawa utilizes only a specific area for a voting place and has no jurisdiction over adjacent properties, such as political signs posted on street corners or passing cars advertising a candidate.

Campaigning at a voting place

The Municipal Elections Act, 1996, stipulates that no person shall attempt to influence, directly or indirectly, how the elector votes and no person shall display a candidate’s election campaign material or literature in a voting place.

Clothing or accessories that identify a candidate, such as, signs, buttons, slogans, logos, advertising, etc., are not permitted inside a voting place.

Voting screens are checked regularly for markings and campaign literature.

The Supervisor Deputy Returning Officer is the final arbiter and may take whatever action is deemed necessary to maintain compliance in the voting place.

Access to multi-residential premises by candidates and their representatives as well as the display of campaign signs

Candidates and their representatives are allowed access to apartments, condominiums, non-profit housing cooperatives and gated communities for the purpose of canvassing and distributing election material.

The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 outlines the following rules around campaigning in these locations:

  • Candidates and their representatives are permitted access between the hours of 9 am to 9 pm;
  • No landlord of residential premises can prevent a tenant from displaying campaign signs on their rented premises;
  • No condominium corporation can prevent an owner or tenant from displaying campaign signs on their unit; and
  • The landlord, person, condominium corporation or agent may set reasonable conditions on the size or type of sign that can be displayed. They can restrict signs from being displayed in common areas.

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, Condominium Act, 1998 and the Co-operative Corporations Act, 1996 also provide candidates and their representatives access to the building for the purpose of canvassing.

The letter Access to Multi-Residential Premises by Candidates and Their Representatives as well as the Display of Campaign Signs provides the above mentioned legislative sections. Candidates and their representatives may use this letter when they are canvassing and distributing election material.

Changes to Provincial legislation impacting municipal elections

Municipal elections in all Ontario municipalities, including the City of Ottawa, are governed by the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (the “MEA”), and the Municipal Act, 2001.

Bill 3

On September 8, 2022, Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022, received Royal Asset, making changes to several Acts, including the following changes to the Municipal Act, 2001, with respect to vacancies in the Office of the Mayor (“office of head of council”):

  • If a vacancy occurs in the office of head of council, the City shall require a by-election to be held, in accordance with the MEA and any regulations, to fill the vacancy. 
  • Subject to subsection (3) and the regulations, if any, the following rules apply to filling vacancies in the office of head of council:
    • Within 60 days after the day the office is declared vacant, the City shall pass a by-law requiring a by-election to be held to fill the vacancy.
    • If a court declares the office of head of council to be vacant, the City shall act within 60 days after the court makes its declaration.
    • If a vacancy occurs within 90 days before voting day of a regular election, the City is not required to fill the vacancy.
  • Subject to the regulations, if any, if a vacancy in the office of head of council occurs after March 31 in the year of a regular election, within 60 days after the day a declaration of vacancy is made, the City shall fill the vacancy by appointing a person who has consented to accept the office if appointed.

Bill 254

On Monday, April 19, 2021, Bill 254, Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021 received Royal Assent, making the following changes to the MEA:

  • Clerks may put conditions in place that would allow candidates and third party advertisers to submit their nomination and registration forms electronically. Endorsements of a nomination that is filed electronically must still be collected as original signatures and a person who files a nomination that must be endorsed shall retain the copy of the document bearing the original endorsement signatures.
  • A registered third party advertiser may withdraw their registration by filing a written withdrawal with the Clerk during the time for filing a notice of registration (no later than the Friday before Voting day, at a time when the Clerk’s office is open).
  • If a registered third party advertiser files a nomination to run for office, their third party advertiser registration is deemed to be withdrawn and their advertising campaign automatically closes.

Bill 204

On Thursday, October 1, 2020, Bill 204Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, 2020, received Royal Assent. The Bill, in part, provides that beginning in 2024, the Province’s Chief Electoral Officer will be responsible for preparing the Preliminary Voters’ List for municipal elections as well as establishing and maintaining a permanent register of electors rather than the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). In addition, Bill 204 makes the following revisions to several Acts:

  • The MEA is amended to move the responsibility for preparing the Preliminary Voters’ List in municipal elections from the MPAC’s to the Province’s Chief Electoral Officer, beginning in 2024.
  • The responsibilities of the City Clerk with regard to updating the Voters’ List are adjusted accordingly, as are the dates regarding the calculation of contribution and spending limits.
  • The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation Act, 1997 is amended to require the Corporation to provide information to the Chief Electoral Officer free of charge, for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a permanent register of electors.

Bill 218

On Friday, November 20, 2020, Bill 218, Supporting Ontario's Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020, received Royal Assent making a number of changes to the MEA. These changes include:

  • Removing the option to hold ranked ballot elections in Ontario municipalities by revoking Ontario Regulation 310/16 (Ranked Ballot Elections) in its entirety, and by repealing Subsections 41.1 and 41.2 of the MEA.
  • Moving Nomination Day in a regular election from the fourth Friday in July to the third Friday in August.
  • Amending Section 42 to allow by-laws authorizing the use of vote-counting equipment and alternative voting methods to be passed on or before May 1 in the year of the election.
  • Moving the date for establishing procedures and forms for the use of any voting and vote-counting equipment or alternative voting method to June 1 in the year of the election.

For more information on these changes, visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s website.

Certified and acclaimed candidates and registered third party advertisers