December 06, 201806 December 2018
The Ombudsman reviewed two meetings held by council for the Township of Tehkummah. During the meeting, it was alleged that the doors to the municipal building where the meeting was being held were locked and remained locked until the meeting was over. The Ombudsman was not provided with any evidence that could substantiate the allegation that the doors were locked. The Ombudsman noted that in future, the municipality should take steps to develop a clear policy on when the doors to the municipal building are locked and train its staff accordingly.
August 21, 201821 August 2018
The Ombudsman reviewed two information sessions relating to the business of the municipality attended by a quorum of council for the Village of Casselman. The Ombudsman found that the council members did not materially advance the business of the municipality during these information sessions. The council members only received information about ongoing projects in the municipality. There was no discussion among the council members present and no decisions were made. Even though the Ombudsman found that these information sessions did not constitute meetings under the Municipal Act, 2001, in the interests of openness and transparency he encouraged council to receive information and updates of this nature during public meetings.
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 discussed whether to fill the vacancy by appointment or by by-election, and identifiable individuals who could fill the vacancy. The discussion about identifiable individuals involved personal information regarding the individuals’ qualifications and experience. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about how to fill the council vacancy did not fit within the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that the discussion involving personal information about the identifiable individuals fit within the personal matters exception. However, the Ombudsman noted that in the interests of transparency, discussions relating to filling a council vacancy should be held in open session.
May 22, 201822 May 2018
In anticipation of council considering appointing a closed meeting investigator, the Town of Petrolia added a $250 complaint fee to its fees by-law. The open meeting law enforcement scheme is premised on a willing public coming forward to assist in ensuring that transparency is maintained at the municipal level. Charging a fee for complaining is entirely inconsistent with the primary intent of the open meeting provisions to foster democratic legitimacy at the local level. The Ombudsman encouraged the municipality to continue to permit members of the public to complain about alleged improperly closed meetings without charging a complaint fee.