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City of Hamilton

May 17, 201817 May 2018

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.

Town of Kirkland Lake

November 21, 201721 November 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed several meetings of the Recreation Committee for the Town of Kirkland Lake which occurred without public notice. The Ombudsman determined that the committee was a committee of council, and therefore subject to the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the committee failed to provide public notice of its meetings, and therefore, the meetings were not open to the public.

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 services consultation plan. During the meeting, council formed a police services consultation working group composed of three members of council. The Ombudsman found that the working group was not a committee under the municipality’s procedure by-law. In determining whether the working group was a committee under the Municipal Act, 2001, the Ombudsman considered the role and function of the group. When groups primarily exchange information or advance positions that a municipality has already decided upon without laying the groundwork for decision-making by council, the body will not constitute a committee. In this case, the Ombudsman found that the working group exercised an administrative function. Therefore, the working group was not a committee under the Municipal Act.

City of London

March 01, 201701 March 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Corporate Services Committee for the City of London to discuss the hiring policy for senior staff, relying on the solicitor-client privilege exception. The municipality informed the Ombudsman that municipal solicitors were present during the closed session and provided legal advice, and that nothing else was addressed. The Ombudsman noted that some municipalities choose to waive solicitor-client privilege and provide privileged information during an investigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

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. Following its closed session discussion, the committee did not report back in open session about the in camera discussion. The Ombudsman found that committee members were unfamiliar with the practice of reporting back. The Ombudsman recommended that as a best practice, the committee should report back after closed sessions and provide general information about what occurred in camera.

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.

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 two closed meetings held by the Public Works Committee of the Township of Bonfield. The committee did not report back following its closed sessions and told our Office that it generally did not observe the practice of reporting back. The Ombudsman noted that the committee’s current practice of not reporting back failed to provide the public with a general idea of the in camera discussion or any information about directions to staff made in closed session.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield. The Ombudsman noted that the committee’s open session minutes only recorded the resolutions passed by the committee. The Ombudsman also found that the committee excluded the clerk during the closed session minutes and did not take any formal minutes for that portion of the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the municipality’s practices led to little substantive content of the committee’s discussion being recorded. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that both open and closed session minutes are kept of all meetings of council, local boards, and committees. The Ombudsman also recommended that meeting records be complete and accurately reflect all of the substantive and procedural items that were discussed, and that meetings be audio and/or video recorded. Finally, the Ombudsman recommended that if the committee’s clerk delegates minute-taking responsibilities, and if the clerk is not attending the meeting, the delegation should be made formally in writing.

Town of Larder Lake

April 16, 201316 April 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by the Planning Committee for the Town of Larder Lake. The Ombudsman recommended that the town amend its procedure by-law to address the open meeting practices of committees and to require public notice of all meetings.