239(2)(c) Acquisition or disposition of land

KEY SUMMARIES

Town of Fort Erie

April 18, 201818 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss a potential partnership with a post-secondary institution. The meetings were closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the discussions, staff presented information on the basic concept of the partnership, and council discussed the need for the town to rent, lease, or purchase property to house the project, including properties that may be of interest if the partnership moved forward. The Ombudsman found that at the time of the meetings, council was in the early stages of decision-making, had not turned its mind to protecting its bargaining position in property negotiations, and had not taken any practical steps to acquiring land. Therefore, council’s discussions did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne to discuss various ongoing land sales and an ongoing lease negotiation for municipally-owned property. The Ombudsman found that the discussions fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception as the land involved was municipally owned and a lease constitutes a property interest in land.

Township of Russell

August 25, 201425 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell to discuss a lease proposal related to the municipality’s fire hall. Although not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception since a lease is a form of property right.

FILTER BY:

Town of Carleton Place

November 22, 201822 November 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the policy review committee for the Town of Carleton Place that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the sale of two municipally-owned properties. The properties were located in the municipality’s industrial park. Although the properties had not been listed for sale, the municipality had a long term strategic project to sell its property within the industrial park. Council’s discussion focused on the impending sale of the properties, including declaring the lands surplus and setting a price per acre. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Carleton Place

November 22, 201822 November 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the policy review committee for the Town of Carleton Place that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the installation of water and sewer servicing adjacent to municipally-owned properties that were for sale. The discussion included financial information related to the installation of services that would impact the municipality’s bargaining position, including pricing strategy, for the municipally-owned properties. The Ombudsman found that the discussion regarding the installation of servicing was inextricably linked to the sale of the municipally owned properties. Accordingly, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Russell

June 08, 201808 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell relying on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the disposition of a municipal road allowance. The Ombudsman found that the discussion about the closure and sale of a road allowance fit within the exceptions set out in the Municipal Act, 2001.

Town of Deep River

May 09, 201809 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River relying on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss a development proposal that involved disposition of municipal property. During the meeting, council was provided with the developer’s detailed business plan that identified the financial strategy the developer intended to pursue to ensure the project’s success. At the time of council’s discussion, negotiations with the developer were ongoing. The Ombudsman found that council was entitled to discuss this matter in closed session under the acquisition or disposition of land closed meeting exception.

Town of Fort Erie

April 18, 201818 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss a potential partnership with a post-secondary institution. The meetings were closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the discussions, staff presented information on the basic concept of the partnership, and council discussed the need for the town to rent, lease, or purchase property to house the project, including properties that may be of interest if the partnership moved forward. The Ombudsman found that at the time of the meetings, council was in the early stages of decision-making, had not turned its mind to protecting its bargaining position in property negotiations, and had not taken any practical steps to acquiring land. Therefore, council’s discussions did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Niagara Falls

May 12, 201712 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss in camera the sale of property. At the time of the meeting, a sale price for the land had been established; however, no final decision had been made about whether or not the municipality would accept the offer. The Ombudsman found that since council was still free to reject the offer or to negotiate a different agreement, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Timmins

April 21, 201721 April 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins to discuss a proposed land transaction with a local post-secondary institution. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the meeting, a representative from the post-secondary institution was present and provided information to council about the proposed land transaction.

The Ombudsman noted that if the other party to the transaction is present during the in camera discussion, the protection offered by the exception is eliminated. The Ombudsman also found that the portion of the closed meeting during which the representative was present could have been parsed from the remainder of the discussion. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Grimsby

November 14, 201614 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Grimsby to discuss obtaining a business valuation of Niagara Power Inc., a municipally-controlled corporation. Council also discussed the sensitive nature of obtaining a valuation. Although it did not rely on the acquisition or disposition of land exception, the municipality suggested it might apply to council’s discussion. The Ombudsman found that the acquisition or disposition of land exception would not apply to the discussion since there were no pending or proposed land deals discussed.

City of Niagara Falls

November 03, 201603 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss a proposal to develop a university campus in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the discussion, staff provided information on the potential effect of the development on municipally-owned properties, and the possibility of expropriation. The Ombudsman found that at the time of the meeting, there were no land transactions in progress and council was not taking practical steps to dispose of its properties. Rather,  council was primarily concerned about the sensitive nature of the business information discussed. Therefore, council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Russell

January 05, 201605 January 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell to discuss a proposed business plan for installing services in a local commercial and industrial area in the municipality. The municipality believed that the discussion involved sensitive business information and therefore closed the meeting. Council reviewed a staff report that included information about the plan and the properties included in the plan’s area. Although not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because the discussion was focused on whether to proceed with the business plan and not on the purchase or sale of land.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne to discuss the conditions of a purchase and sale agreement that had lapsed. The meeting was closed under the acquisition and disposition of land exception. Council’s discussion focused on whether to enter into a new agreement with the developer to further the project. The Ombudsman found that since the original agreement of purchase and sale had lapsed and council was discussing negotiations with the developer for a new agreement, disclosure of council’s discussions could have harmed the municipality’s bargaining positon. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss plans for a non-profit organization to acquire a house from a private individual. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because the municipality was not involved in either acquiring or disposing of land.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss a local business that wished to lease land from the municipality. Council discussed ongoing negotiations with the business and whether or not to lease the land. The Ombudsman found that the acquisition or disposition of land exception applies to the disposition of land through a lease. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne to discuss various ongoing land sales and an ongoing lease negotiation for municipally-owned property. The Ombudsman found that the discussions fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception as the land involved was municipally owned and a lease constitutes a property interest in land.

City of Elliot Lake

November 09, 201509 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the decision of a committee with respect to the disposition of property. The purpose of the meeting was to update a committee member. The disposition had already been made public. The Ombudsman found that subsequent discussions at council about property-related deliberations could continue to fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Armour Township and Village of Burk's Falls

October 28, 201528 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a joint closed meeting held by council for the Village of Burk’s Falls and council for Armour Township to discuss possible amalgamation of the two municipalities. At the time of the meeting, there were no land transactions in progress nor was either municipality contemplating purchasing or selling any land. Any discussions about land transactions were speculative. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Village of Burk's Falls and Armour Township

October 28, 201528 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a joint closed meeting held by council for the Village of Burk’s Falls and council for Armour Township to discuss possible amalgamation of the two municipalities. At the time of the meeting, there were no land transactions in progress nor was either municipality contemplating purchasing or selling any land. Any discussions about land transactions were speculative. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

October 06, 201506 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the Wiarton Keppel International Airport. Council discussed in closed session the potential purchase or sale of the airport, the airport management board, and a contract for airport fuel tank removal. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about the airport management board and the airport fuel tank removal contract was directly related to the proposed purchase of the airport and the municipality’s negotiating strategy. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich to discuss whether council was willing to sell a particular property to a local school board for a new school. Although the municipality did not rely on the acquisition or disposition of land exception, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about a potential land disposition fits within this exception.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich to discuss a local building owned by the municipality. Staff requested direction from council on the future of the building, which included disposing of the property. Although the municipality did not rely on the acquisition or disposition of land exception, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about a potential land disposition fits within this exception.

City of London

June 12, 201512 June 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the City of London’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss development proposals for a decommissioned hospital site owned by the municipality. The committee considered legal advice and heard from staff about expressions of interest from members of the public interested in purchasing the land. The Ombudsman found that, if made public, the committee’s discussion about the expressions of interest might have affected the municipality’s bargaining position in negotiations related to the land sale. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Elliot Lake

April 24, 201524 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss a request from a property owner to extend the time required to finish the exterior of buildings located in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The property was originally owned by the municipality. If the owner failed to finish the exterior within the allotted time, the municipality could repurchase the property at 80% of the purchase price. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion involved the reacquisition of a property by a municipality. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Fort Erie

April 13, 201513 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to hear a presentation of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the meeting, council may have briefly discussed a purely speculative disposition of land. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because the discussion was purely speculative and did not involve an imminent purchase or sale of land. Accordingly, there was no bargaining position to protect.

City of Niagara Falls

March 05, 201505 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss a consultant’s report on a proposal to develop a university campus in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The municipality believed that the consultant’s report contained sensitive business information and should be confidential. The Ombudsman found that public disclosure of council’s discussion might have affected the municipality’s bargaining position with respect to the parcelling of land. However, the discussion did not address how the properties were to be appraised or sold, and there was no discussion of disposing of specific properties. Securing a competitive advantage with respect to attracting municipal development is not a basis for closing a meeting under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Welland

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss a marketing plan prepared by an economic development consultant. The municipality believed that the marketing plan contained sensitive business information and should be confidential. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because council did not discuss a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality.

City of Elliot Lake

October 27, 201427 October 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Finance and Administration Committee for the City of Elliot Lake that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the closure of White Mountain Academy. The municipality had an agreement with the school to pay for maintenance of the building. The Ombudsman found that the municipality’s financial interests might have been harmed if the discussion were held in open session. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Russell

August 25, 201425 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell to discuss municipal infrastructure projects. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. As part of the projects, council discussed the need to obtain an easement over a property and the potential cost. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because an easement is a form of property right.

Township of Russell

August 25, 201425 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell to discuss a lease proposal related to the municipality’s fire hall. Although not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception since a lease is a form of property right.

Town of Fort Erie

August 18, 201418 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss a proposal for the municipality to purchase vacant industrial land. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Council also discussed a grant for a local racetrack to continue to operate. The grant and the proposed purchase of the vacant industrial land were related as the land deal could not proceed if the racetrack was not operational. Representatives from the racetrack were present during the closed session to address questions from council. The grant is not a matter that would normally fit within the cited exception. However, the Ombudsman found that the discussion about the proposed acquisition of land was directly related to the grant for the racetrack and it would not have been feasible to parse the discussion. Therefore the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of London

April 25, 201425 April 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee for the City of London that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the municipality’s land development. The committee received a report from staff that referenced lands the municipality was interested in purchasing or for which it had initiated negotiations to purchase. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Ajax

April 25, 201425 April 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the General Government Committee for the Town of Ajax to discuss an encroachment on a municipal road allowance. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The committee discussed the disposition of a road allowance and the potential risks or repercussions of selling or leasing the land. The fact that the committee discussed the same matter in open session at an earlier meeting does not mean that the closed session was prohibited. The purpose of the closed meeting was to establish a position on how to dispose of the property in question. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Orangeville

February 24, 201424 February 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Orangeville that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the terms of a lease agreement. The owner of the property was present during the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the presence of the owner of the property that the municipality was seeking to acquire disqualified the discussion from fitting within the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The primary purpose of the exception is to protect the municipality’s bargaining position in property negotiations. The presence of the property owner during the discussion defeats this purpose.

Municipality of Markstay-Warren

January 27, 201427 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Markstay-Warren to discuss a proposed land acquisition for a new municipal garage. The meeting was closed using the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Council’s discussion focused on identifying an acceptable purchase price. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Halton Hills (Acton BIA)

October 25, 201325 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the board for the Acton Business Improvement Area (BIA) to discuss leasing new office space. Although not relied on by the BIA, the Ombudsman found that since the discussion was about a pending lease and the terms of the lease that were open for negotiation, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Elliot Lake

August 16, 201316 August 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss the municipality’s negotiations with the Serpent River First Nation with respect to acquisition of crown land for a local development project. The meeting was closed using the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the meeting, council received information about the status of confidential negotiations with the Serpent River First Nation. Council discussed the municipality’s negotiation strategy and next steps. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Oshawa

July 17, 201317 July 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Oshawa that relied on the exception for acquisition or disposition of land to discuss the acquisition of property for a consolidated operations centre. Council received information from the president of a local union about the conditions in the existing public works building. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The Ombudsman noted that the delegation about the condition of the public works building would not on its own fit within the exception, however, the purpose of the delegation was directly related to the potential acquisition of the property and if the delegation was made in open session the municipality’s bargaining position could have been affected.

City of Oshawa

July 05, 201305 July 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Oshawa to discuss a matter involving the disposition of municipally owned lands. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Council discussed a staff report that provided information on the property and correspondence from the lawyer of an interested buyer. Council also discussed how to proceed with respect to the disposition of the lands. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Tiny

February 21, 201321 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Tiny that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss an appraisal of property that the township was considering purchasing. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Municipality of Morris-Turnberry

September 10, 201210 September 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Morris-Turnberry to discuss a confidential report about fire services. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The report included information about a potential land acquisition, including the proposed offer price for the land. The report also included information about an overall cost analysis and comparison of fire service options. The Ombudsman found that normally that type of information would not fit within the exception, however the information was presented as background to inform council’s decision on the land acquisition. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Hamilton

January 11, 201211 January 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Hamilton that relied on the exception for acquisition or disposition of land to hear a presentation by McMaster University about a proposal to acquire lands owned by the local school board for a campus. The Ombudsman found that the presentation and council’s discussion did not fit within the exception because it was not the municipality or a local board that would be acquiring or disposing of the land. A school board is not a local board for the purposes of the Municipal Act, 2001.

Township of Enniskillen

April 03, 200903 April 2009

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Enniskillen to discuss a proposal from local property owners to subdivide farmland located in the municipality. During the meeting, council considered advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding the proposal and potential conditions that might be applied to it. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.