council business

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Township of Wollaston

June 28, 201928 June 2019

The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding the attendance of three councillors at an April 30, 2019 public proceeding of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. The complaint alleged that the councillors’ attendance amounted to a “meeting” under the Municipal Act, 2001 and was therefore subject to the Act’s open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that the three council members did not discuss the subject matter of the proceeding with any of the councillors, municipal staff, or other parties in attendance. Accordingly, the Ombudsman determined that the councillors did not contravene the Act’s open meeting requirements because they did not do anything that materially advanced the business or decision-making of council.

Village of Casselman

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.

Township of Front of Yonge

June 29, 201829 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed an informal gathering of three council members after a regular council meeting for the Township of Front of Yonge. The Ombudsman found that the three council members may have remained in council chambers after the regular meeting had finished, however, they did not discuss council business. Accordingly, an improper meeting did not occur.

City of Oshawa

July 19, 201619 July 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by council for the City of Oshawa with representatives from the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation (OPUC) to receive information related to a potential merger of OPUC with Veridian Corporation, a shared services provider. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. The majority of the presentation was intended to inform council about a particular course of action that would likely come before council for a future vote. The municipality believed that the non-disclosure agreement between OPUC and Veridian meant the discussion should be held in closed session. The Ombudsman found that the purpose of the education or training exception is not to protect disclosure of sensitive business information. The Ombudsman found that the information presented and the questions asked materially advanced council’s business and decision-making. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception.

Township of Russell

November 02, 201502 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by Council for the Township of Russell to receive a rebranding presentation for the municipality. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. After returning to open session, council debated the rebranding proposal and voted to approve the new logo. The Ombudsman found that the information presented was directly about council business and was intended to form the basis of council decision-making. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception.

Village of Casselman

April 16, 201516 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Village of Casselman with local developers at a roundtable to discuss development within the municipality. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. The discussion was not general in nature and related to council business. The scope of the education or training exception extends to meetings that are closed to allow council members to receive information that may assist them in better understanding the business of the municipality and/or to acquire skills, rather than exchange information on an issue. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception.

Town of Fort Erie

April 13, 201513 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to receive a presentation from the local Economic Development and Tourism Corporation (EDTC). The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. During the presentation, EDTC staff provided general information to council about the EDTC. This information was intended to inform council decision-making.  In previous open meetings, council had met with the EDTC to discuss aligning councillor priorities with the municipality’s strategic plan. The Ombudsman found that there was no indication that discussions of that nature took place during the closed session. Therefore, the general discussion of the EDTC’s role fit within the education or training exception.

City of Welland

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland to receive a presentation from staff regarding the local development corporation’s strategic plan. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. The strategic plan had been approved by council at an earlier open meeting. During the closed session, council discussed information relating to the municipality that it considered sensitive. The purpose of the education or training exception is not to shield sensitive information from the public. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception because the discussion did not relate solely to educating council, rather it was intended to inform their decision-making and advance the formulation of the municipality’s economic strategy.

Town of Moosonee

September 09, 201409 September 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Moosonee to receive information from a municipal advisor from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. During the closed session, the municipal advisor reviewed a letter from the minister and discussed the terms of a funding arrangement offered by the ministry to the municipality. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception because the information relayed to council was not general in nature, and related to matters that directly affected the business of the municipality.

Town of Fort Erie

February 06, 200806 February 2008

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie at an off-site location to participate in a program aimed at improving communication and team-building skills. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. Any council business was only discussed in a minor way to illustrate points being discussed. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the education or training exception.