The powers of the municipality are exercised in proper legal form – either by by-law or resolution, as appropriate. A municipal by-law is the equivalent of legislative action. It the municipal version of the statute law enacted at the provincial and federal levels – even to the extent of following the process of three readings. There is no general legislative requirement that by-laws must, like statutes, receive three readings prior to enactment.
The Municipal Act requires, except where otherwise provided, the powers of council shall be exercised by by-law. Many council decisions are also expressed in the form of a resolution. A resolution is simply an expression of the decision or wishes of council which has been submitted in the form of a motion and then adopted by the majority vote. There are not general defined characteristics of resolutions and its adoption is not as strict as those for enacting a by-law.
In general, the powers of council are exercised by by-law in the more important matters and where the action to be taken affects the general public. Resolutions usually deal with the smaller acts of administration and matters of internals management within the municipality.