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City of Owen Sound (Downtown Improvement Area)

October 02, 201802 October 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the board of directors for the Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area to discuss its proposed response to an open letter regarding the board’s meeting practices, relying on the personal matters exception. While in closed session, the members of the board did discuss some personal opinions about the author of the open letter, however the Ombudsman found that this wasn’t the focus of the discussion. Rather, the board primarily discussed how it should respond to the issues raised in the open letter. The Ombudsman found that this discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Elliot Lake

November 09, 201509 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the decision of a committee with respect to the disposition of property. The purpose of the meeting was to update a committee member. The disposition had already been made public. The Ombudsman found that subsequent discussions at council about property-related deliberations could continue to fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of London

June 12, 201512 June 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the City of London’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss development proposals for a decommissioned hospital site owned by the municipality. The committee considered legal advice and heard from staff about expressions of interest from members of the public interested in purchasing the land. The Ombudsman found that, if made public, the committee’s discussion about the expressions of interest might have affected the municipality’s bargaining position in negotiations related to the land sale. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Niagara Falls

March 05, 201505 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss a consultant’s report on a proposal to develop a university campus in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The municipality believed that the consultant’s report contained sensitive business information and should be confidential. The Ombudsman found that public disclosure of council’s discussion might have affected the municipality’s bargaining position with respect to the parcelling of land. However, the discussion did not address how the properties were to be appraised or sold, and there was no discussion of disposing of specific properties. Securing a competitive advantage with respect to attracting municipal development is not a basis for closing a meeting under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Ajax

March 28, 201428 March 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the General Government Committee for the Town of Ajax to discuss an encroachment on a municipal road allowance. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The committee discussed the disposition of a road allowance and the potential risks or repercussions of selling or leasing the land. The fact that the committee discussed the same matter in open session at an earlier meeting does not mean that the closed session was prohibited. The purpose of the closed meeting was to establish a position on how to dispose of the property in question. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Midland

February 04, 201404 February 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland to discuss a council member’s request for indemnification for legal fees incurred as a police services board member. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception because the discussion related to the council member in his official capacity and much of the information was already known to the public. 

Municipality of Powassan

February 06, 201306 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Powassan. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception to discuss a staff report concerning the development of a local rental property by a resident. The name of the resident and the details of the rental property were included in the staff report. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not reveal any personal information about the individual that was not already public knowledge. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception. 

Town of Amherstburg

July 20, 201220 July 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss a report issued by the Ombudsman, relying on the exception for solicitor-client privilege. Council considered written legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor who was also present during the closed session. The written legal advice had been publicly posted on the municipality’s website in error. The Ombudsman found that in many cases, public disclosure of confidential information is a factor weighing in favour of discussing the information in the open. In this case, the Ombudsman found that the information posted to the municipality’s website was done so in error and was intended to remain confidential. Council did not waive its solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.