direction to staff

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City of Hamilton

July 04, 201904 July 2019

A vote by the City of Hamilton’s Selection Committee with regard to an appointment to its police service board was permitted in camera because it was a direction to staff to bring the recommendation forward at a future council meeting.

Town of Deep River

August 15, 201815 August 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River. During the meeting, council voted to direct staff. The Ombudsman found that the vote was permissible as it was a direction to staff related to council’s in camera discussion.

Village of Casselman

July 03, 201803 July 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Village of Casselman. During the closed session, council agreed to proceed with an offer of a contract of employment. The minutes did not record this as an in camera direction to staff or as an open session resolution. The Ombudsman recommended that closed session votes comply with the Municipal Act, 2001 and that council clearly identify the item being voted on, formally vote on it, and record the outcome in the meeting minutes.

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 service consultation plan. During the closed session, council voted to pass five resolutions. The Ombudsman found that three resolutions involved substantive decisions being taken by council. While some of the resolutions could perhaps have been worded as a direction to the staff, they were not phrased as such. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the votes were impermissible.

City of Niagara Falls

May 12, 201712 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss in camera the sale of property. During the meeting, council did not vote on whether to sell the land under consideration, but rather voted to have the matter put to council for consideration in open session, which is a procedural matter. The Ombudsman noted that council should take care to avoid language that suggests council in open session is ratifying or confirming decisions already made in camera, when instead council is making a decision in open session related to a matter discussed in camera.

City of Timmins

January 23, 201723 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins under the advice subject to solicitor-client privilege exception. The Ombudsman found that the meeting did not fit within the cited exception. During the meeting, council voted to provide a direction to the mayor. The Ombudsman found that the vote was not permissible since the surrounding discussion did not fall within the cited exception.  

The Ombudsman reviewed a subsequent closed meeting held by council to discuss the same matter under the advice subject to solicitor-client privilege exception. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the cited exception. During the meeting, council voted to direct the mayor. The Ombudsman found that this vote was permissible. The Ombudsman recommended that when voting in closed session, council should clearly identify the item being voted on, formally vote on it, and record the outcome in the closed session meeting minutes.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation and solicitor-client privilege exceptions. During the closed meeting, council voted to provide direction to staff regarding the preparation of a draft by-law. The Ombudsman found that since the closed meeting fit within the cited exception and the vote was for a direction to staff, the vote was therefore permissible.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law for an area in the county. The Ombudsman noted that there was some confusion about council’s direction to staff during its closed session. The Ombudsman found that this confusion may have been avoided had council reported back in open session its direction to staff during closed session. The Ombudsman recommended that despite not being required by the Municipal Act, it is a best practice for council to report back in camera discussions in open session.

City of Niagara Falls

November 03, 201603 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land and solicitor-client privilege exceptions. During the meeting a vote took place directing staff to take action regarding a funding application. The Ombudsman found that the closed meeting did not fall under the cited exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the vote, although it was a direction to staff, was improper because the closed meeting was not authorized.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield. The meeting was closed under the personal matters and labour relations exceptions. During the meeting, the committee provided directions to staff. The committee did not hold a formal vote but rather came to an agreement by verbal consensus. The Ombudsman recommended that directions to staff be made using formal resolutions passed by a vote of the committee.

Municipality of Brighton

November 02, 201502 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Brighton. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the meeting, council voted by a show of hands to terminate an employee and alter the compensation of several other employees. The Ombudsman found that the resolutions were intended to provide direction to staff but were not properly worded to reflect that intention. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the votes were improper.

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

October 06, 201506 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula. The meetings were closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Voting took place at these meetings. The Ombudsman found that the meetings fit within the cited exceptions and the votes that took place were directions to staff. Therefore, the votes were permissible.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich to discuss a local building owned by the municipality. Staff requested direction from council on the future of the building, which included disposing of the property. Although the municipality did not rely on the acquisition or disposition of land exception, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about a potential land disposition fits within this exception.

Municipality of South Huron

March 02, 201502 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed seven closed meetings held by council for the Municipality of South Huron to discuss staffing issues. In some of these meetings, council voted to provide directions to staff. The Ombudsman found that all of the meetings which were closed for discussions fell within the cited exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the voting that took place during these meetings was permissible.

Township of Baldwin

December 09, 201409 December 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Baldwin. The meeting was closed under the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. During the meeting, council voted to select a candidate for the position of municipal works foreman using a secret ballot. Council then directed staff to offer the position to the candidate who won the secret ballot. The Ombudsman found that a direction to staff is permitted in a closed meeting, however, this direction came from a secret ballot vote which is a violation of the Municipal Act, 2001.

Town of Amherstburg

September 12, 201312 September 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Amherstburg. During these meetings, a number of votes took place. The Ombudsman found that on one occasion council voted to hire a consultant to carry out work for the municipality. The Ombudsman found that this vote was neither procedural nor a direction to staff and was therefore improper.