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The Ombudsman reviewed a complaint alleging that council for the Town of Wasaga Beach improperly held a closed meeting on September 22, 2021. An invite-only ground-breaking ceremony was held at the site of a new twin-pad arena/library recreation complex. All council members were present but only certain members of the public were invited. The Ombudsman found that the ceremony was not considered a “meeting” under the Municipal Act, 2001 as there was no discussion between council members during the ceremony and therefore, no municipal business was advanced.
The Ombudsman found that the City of Hamilton’s City Manager Recruitment Steering Committee was permitted to hold its meeting outside of the municipality and neighbouring municipalities under the Municipal Act, 2001 and the city’s procedure by-law. The Ombudsman found that s. 236 of the Municipal Act, which requires the council of a municipality to hold its meetings in the municipality or an adjacent municipality, did not apply the committee.
The Ombudsman reviewed meetings held by the Waste Management Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton. The committee is a committee of council subject to the open meeting rules, as at least 50% of its members are members of council. The municipality failed to post notice of two meetings of the committee in contravention of the Act. While the municipality posted a regular meeting time for the committee on its website, it did not indicate a location. The two meetings in question also took place at a time different from that posted. The Ombudsman recommended the municipality ensure it always provide notice before meetings of the committee, and that the municipality amend its procedure by-law to provide for notice of advisory committee meetings.
The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Owen Sound that took place in a basement boardroom before an open session in council chambers. The municipality’s procedure by-law stipulates that matters on the closed meeting agenda will be discussed at a time and place set out in the public meeting agenda. For the meeting in question, notice of the open session was provided in accordance with the procedure by-law. However, the public agenda failed to include the location of the closed meeting that took place prior to the open session. The Ombudsman found that while the public were properly informed of the date and time of the closed meeting, the municipality failed to provide notice of the correct location for it.
The Ombudsman reviewed a number of closed meetings held by council for the Township of Woolwich. There was no notice about the location of these meetings provided to the public. The Ombudsman found that even when a meeting is closed, the public has the right to attend the open session when the resolution is passed to go in camera.
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by the Committee of the Whole for the Township of Black River-Matheson. The meeting agenda did not include the fact that the meeting included a closed session or the location of the meeting. The meeting was not held in council chambers, but rather in an arena to accommodate a higher public turnout. The municipality’s general practice was to post notice on a bulletin board and on the municipal website. The Ombudsman found that the municipality failed to provide sufficient notice of the meeting because it failed to include the location of the meeting. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality’s procedure by-law should explicitly provide for notice to the public of regular or special meetings.
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting of council for the Municipality of Killarney. During the meeting, council left chambers to conduct a site visit. While members of the public were invited to accompany council on the site visit, the Ombudsman found that if meetings or portions of meetings occur anywhere other than council chambers, notice should be provided of the change of venue so that members of the public can attend if they wish.