Resolution

KEY SUMMARIES

Town of Deep River

May 09, 201809 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River to discuss a development proposal and various fire service issues. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera failed to specify which closed meeting exception was intended to apply to each item. Instead, this information was provided in the agenda. The Ombudsman suggested that the municipality adopt the best practice of having its resolution specify which closed meeting exception is being relied on for each closed session discussion topic.

City of Brockville

July 19, 201619 July 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the OPP Contact Adhoc Committee for the City of Brockville. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s resolution to proceed in camera only referenced the exception relied upon to close the meeting to the public, and did not provide the public with additional information about what the committee intended to discuss once in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that the committee pass resolutions that clearly set out that it is moving into closed session, and the general nature of the matters to be discussed.

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Township of Wollaston

May 24, 201924 May 2019

Council for Wollaston Township failed to state in its resolutions to close meetings on December 3, 2018 and January 7, 2019 the general nature of the subject to be discussed. Instead, council only referenced the exception relied upon to close the meetings.

City of St. Catharines

February 14, 201914 February 2019

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of St. Catharines. The Ombudsman found that while council made an oral resolution to move into closed session, the open session minutes failed to record the resolution and the oral resolution did not include a general description of the matters to be discussed in camera or the exceptions that applied to the in camera discussions.

Township of The North Shore

June 29, 201829 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of the North Shore. The resolution to proceed into closed session listed “fighter’s honourarium” as the sole topic. Once in closed session, council also discussed a communications protocol between the fire department and staff. The Ombudsman noted that the municipality’s procedure by-law requires that only business dealing directly with the agenda be transacted at a closed meeting. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera should have included more information about the subject matter to be discussed during the closed session.

Township of Russell

June 07, 201807 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell. The Ombudsman noted that the resolution to proceed into closed session referenced the general subject matter to be discussed, but that greater detail could be provided where appropriate and where further information will not undermine the reason for closing the meeting.

Township of Russell

May 25, 201825 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell. A member of the public made a motion for council to move into closed session. The Ombudsman noted that the Municipal Act, 2001 provides that the powers of a municipality shall be exercised by council. The Ombudsman also noted that there is nothing in the Township’s procedure by-law that permits a non-council member to move or second a motion during a meeting of council.

Township of Russell

May 25, 201825 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell. The resolution to proceed into closed session did not provide sufficient information about council’s intended discussion. The Ombudsman noted that resolutions to proceed in camera should provide a general description of the issue to be discussed.

Town of Petrolia

May 22, 201822 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed closed meetings held by council for the Town of Petrolia. The municipality passed resolutions to close three meetings, each one referring only to the exception relied on and an internal file number. The municipality’s resolutions failed to provide meaningful information to the public about the matters to be discussed in camera.

Town of Deep River

May 09, 201809 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River to discuss a development proposal and various fire service issues. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera failed to specify which closed meeting exception was intended to apply to each item. Instead, this information was provided in the agenda. The Ombudsman suggested that the municipality adopt the best practice of having its resolution specify which closed meeting exception is being relied on for each closed session discussion topic.

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 matters under the exception for acquisition or disposition of land. While the resolution identified the exception, it did not provide meaningful information to the public about the matter to be discussed during the meetings. The Ombudsman recommended that the township ensure that its resolutions to proceed in camera provide a general description of the issue to be discussed in a way that maximizes the information available to the public while not undermining the reason for excluding the public.

Township of Tehkummah

June 16, 201716 June 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed five closed meetings held by council for the Township of Tehkummah. The Ombudsman noted that the resolutions to proceed in camera did not clearly state the subject matter to be discussed in closed session, which is contrary to the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001. Simply citing the closed meeting exception is not sufficient. The Ombudsman noted that to ensure that the resolution to proceed in camera maximizes the information available to the public, the municipality should include in its resolutions a brief description of the topic to be discussed. Doing so provides meaningful information to the public about the issues to be discussed in camera and inspires confidence that the meeting has been properly closed for a legitimate purpose.

Township of Alfred and Plantagenet

May 10, 201710 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet to discuss matters under the exceptions for acquisition or disposition of land and personal matters about an identifiable individual. While the resolution identified the exceptions, it did not provide meaningful information to the public about the issues to be discussed during the closed session. The Ombudsman recommended that the township ensure that its resolutions to proceed in camera provide a general description of the issue to be discussed in a way that maximizes the information available to the public while not undermining the reason for excluding the public.

City of Timmins

January 23, 201723 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by council for the City of Timmins. The Ombudsman found that the resolutions to proceed in camera for both meetings failed to provide meaningful information to the public about the issues that were to be discussed in camera, and also that the resolutions failed to specify which closed meeting exception was intended to apply to each item on the closed meeting agenda. The Ombudsman recommended that council ensure that its resolutions to proceed in camera provide a general description of the issue to be discussed in a way that maximizes the information available to the public while not undermining the reason for excluding the public.

City of Timmins

January 23, 201723 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins to discuss the recruitment process to replace the retiring Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The Ombudsman found that council’s resolution to proceed in camera did not provide meaningful information to the public about the issue that was to be discussed. The Ombudsman also found that the resolution failed to specify which closed meeting exception was intended to apply to each item on the closed meeting agenda.

City of Greater Sudbury

January 20, 201720 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed three closed meetings held by council for the City of Greater Sudbury. The Ombudsman found that council failed at these meetings to provide any information in the resolution to proceed in camera about the discussions that were to take place, other than citing the exceptions authorizing the in camera discussion. The Ombudsman recommended that council’s resolution to proceed in camera provide a brief description of the subject matter to be considered in closed session, as well as the citing the exception(s) being relied upon.

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

December 29, 201629 December 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss airport fees. The Ombudsman found that the commission failed in its resolution to proceed in camera to cite the exception it was relying upon. The resolution was also not read out loud and members of the commission did not have a draft resolution prior to voting to proceed in camera. Additionally, although the general nature of the matter to be discussed was provided orally at the meeting, the formal written resolution failed to include that information. The Ombudsman recommended reading out the formal resolution prior to proceeding into closed session and that the formal resolution include information about the intended in camera discussion.

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Niagara District Airport Commission)

December 29, 201629 December 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss airport fees. The Ombudsman found that the commission failed in its resolution to proceed in camera to cite the exception it was relying upon. The resolution was also not read out loud and members of the commission did not have a draft resolution prior to voting to proceed in camera. Additionally, although the general nature of the matter to be discussed was provided orally at the meeting, the formal written resolution failed to include that information. The Ombudsman recommended reading out the formal resolution prior to proceeding into closed session and that the formal resolution include information about the intended in camera discussion.

City of St. Catharines (Niagara District Airport Commission)

December 29, 201629 December 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss airport fees. The Ombudsman found that the commission failed in its resolution to proceed in camera to cite the exception it was relying upon. The resolution was also not read out loud and members of the commission did not have a draft resolution prior to voting to proceed in camera. Additionally, although the general nature of the matter to be discussed was provided orally at the meeting, the formal written resolution failed to include that information. The Ombudsman recommended reading out the formal resolution prior to proceeding into closed session and that the formal resolution include information about the intended in camera discussion.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law, relying on the solicitor-client advice exception. During the closed session, council received legal advice on the matter from the municipality’s solicitor. The Ombudsman considered the decision in Farber v. Kingston, which found that a description that only stated “legal matters” without more specifics was inadequate. In this case, the Ombudsman found that the resolution was sufficient as it contained a general description, which included the matter to be considered and the type of discussion that would ensue.

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 whether the municipality should partner with a post-secondary institution to apply for development funding. The Ombudsman noted although reporting back is not a requirement of the Municipal Act, 2001, council passed a resolution in open session that provided the public with information about the discussion held in camera.

Municipality of Brockton (Walkerton BIA)

August 05, 201605 August 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Walkerton Business Improvement Association (BIA) for the Municipality of Brockton. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera did not provide any information about the subject matter of the discussion other than the exception authorizing the closed session. The Ombudsman encouraged the BIA to ensure that resolutions to enter closed session provide the public with a general description of the subject matter to be considered in camera, while balancing the need to protect confidential and sensitive information from disclosure.

City of Brockville

July 19, 201619 July 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the OPP Contact Adhoc Committee for the City of Brockville. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s resolution to proceed in camera only referenced the exception relied upon to close the meeting to the public, and did not provide the public with additional information about what the committee intended to discuss once in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that the committee pass resolutions that clearly set out that it is moving into closed session, and the general nature of the matters to be discussed.

Norfolk County

May 10, 201610 May 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the council-in-committee for Norfolk County to discuss the extension of a legal services contract. The resolution to proceed in camera referred to a  “contractual matter” along with a list of other items to be discussed and the exceptions relied upon. The Ombudsman found that while the description of the discussion did provide the public with some idea about the committee’s intended discussion, the resolution could have included additional information without undermining the confidentiality of the matter. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that resolutions to proceed in camera clearly specify which exception is being relied upon to discuss each matter.

Village of Casselman

January 29, 201629 January 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Village of Casselman. After completing an investigation, the Ombudsman found that the resolutions to proceed in camera for a number of closed session meetings did not comply with the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001 because the resolutions failed to provide information about the general nature of the subject matter to be discussed during the meetings. During the course of the Ombudsman review, council for the Village of Casselman changed its practice for passing resolutions to go into closed session.

Village of Casselman

January 29, 201629 January 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Village of Casselman. The Ombudsman found that in one instance council did not report back on a closed session until the next council meeting. However, for the majority of the meetings investigated, the Ombudsman found that council passed a resolution in open session following each closed session that reflected its in camera discussions and functioned as a report back.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Public Works Committee of the Township of Bonfield. The Ombudsman found that the resolutions to enter closed session only included the exceptions that the committee relied upon to go in camera - a practice which did not comply with the Act or the town’s procedure by-law. The Ombudsman recommended that the committee’s resolutions to move in camera provide greater information to the public on the general nature of the matter to be discussed.

Township of West Lincoln

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Administration/Finance/Fire Committee for the Township of West Lincoln. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera only referenced the exceptions relied upon to close the meeting to the public but did not provide further information about the subject of the discussions. The Ombudsman also found that there was an opportunity to add more information about the in camera discussion to the resolution based on a resolution passed in open session that was related to the in camera discussion.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield. The meeting was closed under the personal matters and labour relations exceptions. During the meeting, the committee provided directions to staff. The committee did not hold a formal vote but rather came to an agreement by verbal consensus. The Ombudsman recommended that directions to staff be made using formal resolutions passed by a vote of the committee.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the City of Port Colborne. The Ombudsman found that one resolution to proceed in camera failed to state the general nature of the matters to be considered in closed session. The Ombudsman found that council provided incomplete information regarding the subjects to be discussed in closed session. It failed to describe the general nature of the subject matter to be discussed in a way that maximized the information available to the public.

Municipality of Brighton

November 02, 201502 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by council for the Municipality of Brighton to discuss the performance and compensation of various municipal employees. The Ombudsman found that the municipality failed to state the general nature of the matters to be considered in closed session in the resolution to proceed in camera. The Ombudsman found that council’s resolution did not provide meaningful information to the public about the issues to be discussed because it merely cited the exception relied upon to close the meeting to the public.

Township of Russell

November 02, 201502 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell. During the meeting, council received a presentation on township rebranding. The resolution to proceed in camera only provided the title of a confidential staff report and no additional information regarding the subject matter of the report. The Ombudsman found that the resolution provided limited information about the matter to be discussed in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that resolutions to enter closed session contain a general description of the issue to be discussed, including when referencing confidential reports or materials.

Armour Township and Village of Burk’s Falls

October 28, 201528 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a joint meeting held by councils for the Village of Burk’s Falls and Armour Township. The Ombudsman found that both municipalities were obligated to pass a resolution to close the meeting in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001 and their respective procedure by-laws. Armour Township passed a resolution to proceed into closed session during the closed session. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to close a meeting must be passed in open session while members of the public still have the opportunity to attend. Even if council plans to hold a meeting where a closed session is the only agenda item, the meeting must begin in open session and the public must be invited to attend that portion of the meeting. The Village of Burk’s Falls did not pass a resolution to close the meeting.

Village of Burk’s Falls and Armour Township

October 28, 201528 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a joint meeting held by councils for the Village of Burk’s Falls and Armour Township. The Ombudsman found that both municipalities were obligated to pass a resolution to close the meeting in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001 and their respective procedure by-laws. Armour Township passed a resolution to proceed into closed session during the closed session. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to close a meeting must be passed in open session while members of the public still have the opportunity to attend. Even if council plans to hold a meeting where a closed session is the only agenda item, the meeting must begin in open session and the public must be invited to attend that portion of the meeting. The Village of Burk’s Falls did not pass a resolution to close the meeting.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich. The Ombudsman found that the municipality failed to cite in its resolution the closed meeting exception relied upon to proceed in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that council ensure that the resolution discloses all exceptions authorizing the closed meeting discussion, and that the resolution includes both the fact of holding the closed meeting and the general nature of the subject matter to be discussed.

Township of Chamberlain

July 08, 201508 July 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Township of Chamberlain. The Ombudsman found a number of procedural issues with the meeting, including that the resolutions to move in camera did not comply with the Municipal Act’s requirements or the municipality’s procedure by-law. One resolution did not cite an exception authorizing the discussion, or provide any other information. Other resolutions did not provide a general description of the subject matter to be considered. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure its resolutions to proceed in camera provide a description of the issue to be discussed, as well as the exception authorizing the discussion.

Township of McMurrich/Monteith

July 06, 201506 July 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed three closed meetings held by council for the Township of McMurrich-Monteith. The Ombudsman found that during one meeting, the resolution to proceed in camera did not indicate that the exception applied to the subject matters to be discussed in camera. The Ombudsman found that at another meeting, the resolution to move into closed session failed to provide information about the general nature of the subject matter to be discussed.

Municipality of Magnetawan

June 24, 201524 June 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Magnetawan. After conducting an investigation, the Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera did not state the exception that was relied upon. The Ombudsman noted that it was not required to cite the specific exception authorizing the closed session, but that it was recommended as a best practice fostering transparency.

Town of Amherstburg

April 13, 201513 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss municipal bank signing authorities. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera did not contain any information about the subject matter to be discussed. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that all resolutions to proceed in camera provide a general description of the subject matter to be discussed in closed session.

Municipality of South Huron

March 02, 201502 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Municipality of South Huron held between 2008 and 2013. The Ombudsman found that the resolutions to proceed in camera at most of the meetings only stated that council would meet in closed session at a given time. The resolutions failed to include the subject matter to be considered in closed session or the specific exception(s) relied upon to go into closed session.

Village of Westport

February 13, 201513 February 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Village of Westport. The resolution to proceed in camera only cited the exception relied upon to go in session and described the matter to be discussed as a “legal matter.” The Ombudsman found that in order to meet the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001, the municipality must provide a description of the subject matter to be discussed in closed session.

Town of Cochrane

January 12, 201512 January 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Cochrane. The resolution to proceed in camera stated that the matter to be discussed was “property and personnel matters.” The Ombudsman noted that the investigation into the meeting was unable to clarify the specific nature of the topic discussed in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that in order to fulfill its obligations under the Municipal Act, 2001 and its own procedure by-law, the municipality must provide in the resolution a general description of the subject matter to be discussed in closed session.

Township of Baldwin

December 09, 201409 December 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the council for the Township of Baldwin discuss the qualifications of candidates for the municipal works foreman position. The resolution to proceed in camera only contained the wording of the exception council relied upon to go into closed session and did not provide any meaningful information for the matter that would be considered in the closed session. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that resolutions to proceed in camera include as much information as possible, and at the very least provide a general description of the subject matter to be discussed in closed session.

Town of Mattawa

January 11, 201111 January 2011

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Mattawa. As part of the Ombudsman’s findings, it was noted that during two meetings, the municipality passed a resolution prior to moving into closed session, as required by the Municipal Act, 2001. However, in each case the resolution only cited the exception council was relying on to close the meeting. The Ombudsman recommended that council pass a resolution in open session that generally describes the subject matter to be considered, so as to maximize the information available to the public without undermining the reason for proceeding in camera.

Township of Baldwin

May 23, 200923 May 2009

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Baldwin. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera failed to meet the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001. The resolution did not provide a general description of the nature of the subject matter to be discussed in closed session and did not cite a proper closed meeting exception. The Ombudsman noted that publicly identifying what issues will be discussed in a closed session is of fundamental importance to the transparency of local democracy. It is a significant accountability measure to ensure that council only engages in discussions of permitted subjects when in closed session. Failure to comply with the requirements for council resolutions and for closed meeting discussions can result in a loss of public confidence in municipal government.