Vote

KEY SUMMARIES

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 relying on the personal matters exception to discuss a vacant council seat. During the closed session, council decided by consensus to fill the vacancy by way of appointment and to direct the mayor to approach a specific individual to determine their interest in the position. Council did not formally vote on these matters. The Ombudsman found that the discussion about whether to proceed by way of appointment should not have been held in closed session, and consequently, this vote should have been in open session. The Ombudsman found that council’s decision to direct the mayor to approach a specific individual, was permissible under s.329(6) of the Municipal Act, 2001.

City of Niagara Falls

May 12, 201712 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land and the solicitor-client privilege exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the cited exceptions. During the closed session, council voted to direct staff to consider the matter further when council returned to open session. The Ombudsman found that the vote was procedural in nature and was permissible.

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 for replacing a staff member. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the meeting, council used a secret ballot process to elect committee members to a hiring committee. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the cited exception. Accordingly, the voting was not permissible. Further, the Municipal Act, 2001 prohibits voting by way of secret ballot.

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Niagara District Airport Commission. The commission conducted informal voting during both meetings. The Ombudsman found that even straw polls, or “shows of hands” constitute voting and must comply with the procedural requirements.

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Town of Deep River

August 15, 201815 August 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River. During the meeting, council voted to direct staff. The Ombudsman found that the vote was permissible as it was a direction to staff related to council’s in camera discussion.

Village of Casselman

July 03, 201803 July 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Village of Casselman. During the closed session, council agreed to proceed with an offer of a contract of employment. The minutes did not record this as an in camera direction to staff or as an open session resolution. The Ombudsman recommended that closed session votes comply with the Municipal Act, 2001 and that council clearly identify the item being voted on, formally vote on it, and record the outcome in the meeting minutes.

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 relying on the personal matters exception to discuss a vacant council seat. During the closed session, council decided by consensus to fill the vacancy by way of appointment and to direct the mayor to approach a specific individual to determine their interest in the position. Council did not formally vote on these matters. The Ombudsman found that the discussion about whether to proceed by way of appointment should not have been held in closed session, and consequently, this vote should have been in open session. The Ombudsman found that council’s decision to direct the mayor to approach a specific individual, was permissible under s.329(6) of the Municipal Act, 2001.

City of Welland

November 24, 201724 November 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland to appoint a new member of council. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the closed session, council voted by way of secret ballot to select a candidate to fill the council vacancy. The Ombudsman found that the vote was improper as it was not taken during a properly closed meeting and was not for a procedural matter or to provide direction to staff. The Ombudsman also found that ballot voting is prohibited by the Municipal Act, 2001, with limited exceptions, and such votes are of no effect.

Town of Deep River

October 03, 201703 October 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River to discuss a police service consultation plan. During the closed session, council voted to pass five resolutions. The Ombudsman found that three resolutions involved substantive decisions being taken by council. While some of the resolutions could perhaps have been worded as a direction to the staff, they were not phrased as such. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the votes were impermissible.

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. During the meeting, council did not vote on whether to sell the land under consideration, but rather voted to have the matter put to council for consideration in open session, which is a procedural matter. The Ombudsman noted that council should take care to avoid language that suggests council in open session is ratifying or confirming decisions already made in camera, when instead council is making a decision in open session related to a matter discussed in camera.

City of Niagara Falls

May 12, 201712 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land and the solicitor-client privilege exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the cited exceptions. During the closed session, council voted to direct staff to consider the matter further when council returned to open session. The Ombudsman found that the vote was procedural in nature and was permissible.

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. Council closed a meeting to discuss matters under two exceptions: acquisition or disposition of land, and personal matters about an identifiable individual. During the meeting, a vote was taken that was neither procedural nor a direction to staff. In addition, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the cited exceptions. Therefore, the vote was not permissible.

Township of Alfred and Plantagenet

May 10, 201710 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a series of emails sent by council members for the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet to each other. Individual members of council provided their approval over email to proceed with a contribution in support of a grant application. The Ombudsman found that the emails constituted a meeting of council and the indications of support from council constituted a vote. Since this email chain constituted an illegal closed meeting of council, and the vote was neither procedural nor a direction to staff, the vote was improper.

Town of Fort Erie (Ridgeway BIA)

April 03, 201703 April 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Board of Management for the Ridgeway Business Improvement Area (BIA) in the Town of Fort Erie to discuss the conduct of an employee of the BIA. During the meeting, the board agreed by consensus to take certain steps with respect to the employee. The Ombudsman found that the decision was improper as it was neither procedural nor a direction to staff.

City of Timmins

January 23, 201723 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins under the advice subject to solicitor-client privilege exception. The Ombudsman found that the meeting did not fit within the cited exception. During the meeting, council voted to provide a direction to the mayor. The Ombudsman found that the vote was not permissible since the surrounding discussion did not fall within the cited exception.  

The Ombudsman reviewed a subsequent closed meeting held by council to discuss the same matter under the advice subject to solicitor-client privilege exception. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the cited exception. During the meeting, council voted to direct the mayor. The Ombudsman found that this vote was permissible. The Ombudsman recommended that when voting in closed session, council should clearly identify the item being voted on, formally vote on it, and record the outcome in the closed session meeting minutes.

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 for replacing a staff member. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the meeting, council used a secret ballot process to elect committee members to a hiring committee. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the cited exception. Accordingly, the voting was not permissible. Further, the Municipal Act, 2001 prohibits voting by way of secret ballot.

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 the closed session minutes did not clearly record the item discussed, the vote that took place, or the outcome of the closed session. The Ombudsman recommended that council for the city ensure that its in camera votes comply with the Municipal Act, 2001, including being properly recorded.

Township of Georgian Bay

January 19, 201719 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Georgian Bay to discuss a shoreline structure that did not meet the requirements of the township’s zoning by-law. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. During the meeting, council voted to pass a resolution regarding the shoreline structure. The Ombudsman found that the vote was not for a procedural matter or a direction to staff, and was therefore improper.

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. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation and solicitor-client privilege exceptions. During the closed meeting, council voted to provide direction to staff regarding the preparation of a draft by-law. The Ombudsman found that since the closed meeting fit within the cited exception and the vote was for a direction to staff, the vote was therefore permissible.

City of Niagara Falls

November 03, 201603 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land and solicitor-client privilege exceptions. During the meeting a vote took place directing staff to take action regarding a funding application. The Ombudsman found that the closed meeting did not fall under the cited exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the vote, although it was a direction to staff, was improper because the closed meeting was not authorized.

City of Brockville

July 19, 201619 July 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the OPP Contact Adhoc Committee for the City of Brockville with representatives from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to receive information about the OPP’s costing process to provide municipal policing services. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. The information received by the committee was general in nature. The committee did not receive specific information about the OPP’s forthcoming costing proposal or discuss if the municipality should contract with the OPP for municipal policing services. The Ombudsman found that this portion of council’s discussion fit within the education or training exception. However, in addition to receiving general education during the closed session, the committee discussed engaging a local audit firm and directed staff to determine if the firm could assess the OPP costing proposal. The Ombudsman found that when a meeting is closed under the education or training exception, no votes can be taken that advance business or decision-making.

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 meeting was closed under the education or training exception. During the meeting, the committee voted to direct staff to contact an audit firm. The Ombudsman found that the meeting did not fit within the cited exception. Therefore, the vote was improper.

Town of Midland

June 03, 201603 June 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. During the meeting, council voted to provide direction to staff to bring a resolution into the open session. The Ombudsman found that the subject matter did not fit within the cited exception. Accordingly, the vote was improper.

Township of McKellar

December 04, 201504 December 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed emails sent by the Economic Development Committee for the Township of McKellar about a matter that needed to be determined before the committee’s next meeting. The Ombudsman found that the emails constituted an illegal closed meeting and the vote that took place over email was improper.

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.

Municipality of Brighton

November 02, 201502 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Brighton. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the meeting, council voted by a show of hands to terminate an employee and alter the compensation of several other employees. The Ombudsman found that the resolutions were intended to provide direction to staff but were not properly worded to reflect that intention. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the votes were improper.

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 together to discuss amalgamation. During the closed meeting, both councils made several decisions through consensus and provided direction to staff. The Ombudsman found that the meeting did not fit within the closed meeting exceptions. Therefore, the voting that took place during the closed meeting was not permissible. The Ombudsman further found that some of the votes were not for procedural matters or directions to staff.

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 together to discuss amalgamation. During the closed meeting, both councils made several decisions through consensus and provided direction to staff. The Ombudsman found that the meeting did not fit within the closed meeting exceptions. Therefore, the voting that took place during the closed meeting was not permissible. The Ombudsman further found that some of the votes were not for procedural matters or directions to staff.

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

October 06, 201506 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula. The meetings were closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Voting took place at these meetings. The Ombudsman found that the meetings fit within the cited exceptions and the votes that took place were directions to staff. Therefore, the votes were permissible.

Municipality of South Huron

March 02, 201502 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed seven closed meetings held by council for the Municipality of South Huron to discuss staffing issues. In some of these meetings, council voted to provide directions to staff. The Ombudsman found that all of the meetings which were closed for discussions fell within the cited exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the voting that took place during these meetings was permissible.

Township of Baldwin

December 09, 201409 December 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Baldwin. The meeting was closed under the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. During the meeting, council voted to select a candidate for the position of municipal works foreman using a secret ballot. Council then directed staff to offer the position to the candidate who won the secret ballot. The Ombudsman found that a direction to staff is permitted in a closed meeting, however, this direction came from a secret ballot vote which is a violation of the Municipal Act, 2001.

City of Owen Sound

June 24, 201424 June 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Owen Sound. The meeting was closed under the personal matters and litigation or potential litigation exceptions. During the meeting, council voted on funding for an MRI machine. The Ombudsman found that the meeting did not fit within the cited exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the vote was not for a procedural matter or to provide direction to staff. Therefore, the vote was not permissible.

Town of Amherstburg

October 07, 201307 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Amherstburg. During these meetings, a number of votes took place. The Ombudsman found that on one occasion council voted to hire a consultant to carry out work for the municipality. The Ombudsman found that this vote was neither procedural nor a direction to staff and was therefore improper.

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Niagara District Airport Commission. The commission conducted informal voting during both meetings. The Ombudsman found that even straw polls, or “shows of hands” constitute voting and must comply with the procedural requirements.

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

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Niagara District Airport Commission. The commission conducted informal voting during both meetings. The Ombudsman found that even straw polls, or “shows of hands” constitute voting and must comply with the procedural requirements.

City of St. Catharines (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Niagara District Airport Commission. The commission conducted informal voting during both meetings. The Ombudsman found that even straw polls, or “shows of hands” constitute voting and must comply with the procedural requirements.

Municipality of Lambton Shores

February 11, 201311 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Lambton Shores. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. While in camera, council conducted six votes. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the cited exception. However, the Ombudsman also found that the votes were not for procedural matters or for directions to staff and were therefore improper.

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

May 28, 201228 May 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands to discuss council member remuneration. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the meeting, council members voted on their own remuneration. The Ombudsman found that this vote was neither procedural in nature nor a direction to staff and was therefore improper. The Ombudsman also found that the meeting itself was improperly closed.

Town of Amherstburg

March 17, 201117 March 2011

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The Ombudsman found that a vote taken during the closed session was neither procedural in nature nor a direction staff. Therefore, the vote was improper.

Township of Baldwin

May 23, 200923 May 2009

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Baldwin. During the meeting, council voted on an open tender using a show of hands. The Ombudsman found that the closed meeting did not fit within any of the open meeting exceptions. Further, the vote was neither procedural nor a direction to staff. Therefore, the vote was improper.