November 29, 202329 November 2023
The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Town of Grimsby contravened the open meeting rules when it held a closed meeting on February 21, 2023. The Ombudsman found that the in camera discussion fit within the exceptions for personal matters about an identifiable individual and solicitor-client privilege. However, council contravened section 239(4)(a) of the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to include a general description of the subject matter to be discussed in closed session in its resolution to move in camera.
November 21, 202321 November 2023
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that the agenda for the February 6, 2019 meeting of the General Issues Committee of the City of Hamilton misrepresented the subject matter for discussion as one item, when there were four different PowerPoint presentations given in closed session.
The Ombudsman concluded that the Committee did not contravene the open meeting requirements under the Municipal Act, 2001, as the Act does not require municipalities to provide advance notice of the matters to be discussed in closed session. However, as a best practice, the Ombudsman encouraged the Committee to provide accurate information in its agendas about the matters intended to be discussed at meetings, including in closed session.
November 16, 202316 November 2023
The Ombudsman found that council for the Township of Sables-Spanish Rivers did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 on July 26 and August 9, 2023, when the Township did not list the closed sessions on the agendas. The Ombudsman noted that the closed sessions were not initially planned, and the Act does not require municipalities to provide advance notice of the matters to be discussed in closed session.
September 20, 202320 September 2023
The Municipality of Callander previously did not publish agendas for meetings of several committees (the Culture, Heritage and Tourism Committee; the Events Committee; and the Implementation and Beautification Advisory Committee). It has confirmed it will do so going forward. The Ombudsman determined that it was unnecessary to proceed with an investigation, given the steps that the Municipality took to address the concerns raised.
May 15, 202315 May 2023
The Ombudsman found that the Town of Huntsville’s General Committee did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001
with regard to the information provided on its agenda for a closed session scheduled for the September 28, 2022 meeting, as the Act does not require municipalities to provide advance notice of the matters to be discussed in closed session. The Ombudsman noted that it is a best practice to provide the public with sufficiently meaningful information on public agendas regarding the planned topic(s) of discussion in closed session.
August 31, 202231 August 2022
The Ombudsman received a complaint that Dufferin County’s Infrastructure and Environmental Services Standing Committee failed to provide notice to the public that the Committee would be closing a portion of the April 28, 2022 meeting. The Ombudsman found that the Committee provided notice for the meeting as a whole and it was entitled to proceed in camera because there are no specific notice requirements outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001 for in camera meetings.
July 14, 202214 July 2022
The Ombudsman received a complaint that the Governance Committee for the Niagara Falls Downtown Business Improvement Area failed to indicate in its January 12, 2022 meeting agenda that it would proceed in camera. The Ombudsman found that the Committee was entitled to proceed in camera because there are no specific notice requirements outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001 or in the BIA’s by-laws for in camera meetings or discussion items.
April 17, 202017 April 2020
The Ombudsman reviewed a special meeting held by council for the Township of Russell via electronic participation. Members were permitted to participate electronically and be counted toward quorum as a state of emergency had been declared pursuant to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The Ombudsman commended the Township for taking steps to ensure members of the public were advised of how to observe the live broadcast of the meeting and urged all municipalities to ensure electronic meetings are accessible to the public.
July 18, 201818 July 2018
The Ombudsman investigated the closed sessions of a meeting of council for the Regional Municipality of Niagara on December 7, 2017. The Region’s procedure by-law indicated that a closed session is to be held after “other business.” The Ombudsman found that a strict reading of the procedure by-law would appear to fetter council’s ability to enter into closed sessions as circumstances arise during the course of an open council meeting. The Ombudsman recommended the Region amend its procedure by-law to clarify council’s authority to exercise discretion to hold a closed session outside of a set agenda order. The Ombudsman also recommended the Region update the by-law to reflect all of the closed meeting exceptions in the Municipal Act, 2001.
June 05, 201405 June 2014
The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Owen Sound to discuss funding for an MRI machine. The Ombudsman made recommendations to improve the municipality’s closed meeting practices and procedures. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality update its procedure by-law to provide notice of special meetings and to create a process for adding items to the meeting agenda.
July 07, 201007 July 2010
The Ombudsman reviewed closed meetings held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula. The Ombudsman found that notice of the meetings was provided in accordance with the procedure by-law. However, in some cases, council discussed matters in closed session that were not included in the agenda that had been posted in advance. The Ombudsman recommended that in the interest of transparency and accountability, council should avoid discussing matters that were not the subject of prior notice, except in urgent situations.
May 23, 200923 May 2009
The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Baldwin. The Ombudsman found that the municipality’s procedure by-law failed to adhere to the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001 in a number of ways, including authorizing council to meet in closed session for reasons beyond the exceptions contained in the Act. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality update its by-law to require notice for all meetings, properly reflect the Act’s closed meeting exceptions, establish agenda procedures, and require complete and accurate records for all council meetings.
January 30, 200930 January 2009
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by council for the Township of Emo. Notice of the meeting was provided in accordance with its procedure by-law. The notice provided for the minimum information required, the date, time and place of the meeting. The Ombudsman found that many municipalities require that an agenda listing the matters to be discussed be publicly posted in advance of the meeting - a practice that is consistent with the intent of the open meeting rules. Advance public notice of a meeting should include all items to be considered at a meeting, including a general description of subjects to be considered in closed session. Items that have not been the subject of advance notice should only be considered in rare circumstances where urgency does not permit the normal notice requirements to be met, and after additional procedural requirements have been satisfied.