land transaction

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Bruce County

May 20, 202220 May 2022

Bruce County’s Executive Committee cited the exception for acquisition or disposition of land when it proceeded in camera on September 6, 2018. The Ombudsman found that the Committee’s discussion regarding the development of a County hub did not fit within the exception, as the County owned the land in question and was not seeking to sell it. Even if the Committee had discussed this option, the discussion would have been purely speculative and the County did not have a bargaining position to protect. The Executive Committee’s discussion about acquiring land for another project was also speculative and the County did not have a bargaining position to protect at the time. Accordingly, the exception for acquisition or disposition of land did not apply. 

The Ombudsman also considered the applicability of the exception for acquisition or disposition of land to the Committee’s in camera discussion at a meeting on January 10, 2019. While the closed meeting minutes identify various possible locations for the Nuclear Innovation Institute, the Ombudsman found that no land transaction was pending or had been proposed, and no practical steps had been taken to acquire a property or begin negotiations. Accordingly, the County did not yet have a bargaining position to protect and the exception for acquisition or disposition of land did not apply.

Township of Lanark Highlands

September 04, 202104 September 2021

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of Lanark Highlands contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements during a meeting on September 22, 2020. The complaint alleged that council’s discussion did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman’s investigation determined that the proposed land transaction was mentioned briefly to provide context for a conversation about the governance of a local association but was not otherwise discussed. The Ombudsman therefore found that the exception for acquisition or disposition of land would not apply.

City of Pickering

September 28, 202028 September 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the City of Pickering on August 10, 2020. Our review found that council discussed information related to a specific piece of land the municipality was considering purchasing. Once council returned to open session, it resolved to purchase the plot of land at a specific price and directed staff to execute an Agreement of Purchase and Sale and take other steps to finalize the sale. This discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.  

Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula

May 28, 201828 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting of council for the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss an application made under the Land Titles Act for a property located within the municipality. During the meeting, council reviewed a cover letter for the application which included the property identification number, and a draft plan of reference showing the property’s location, dimensions and boundaries. The information did not include the property owner’s name. The Ombudsman found that this type of information is not inherently personal and does not constitute personal information about the property owner. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

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 Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne to discuss the conditions of a purchase and sale agreement for a proposed residential development that had lapsed. The meeting was closed under the exception for solicitor-client privilege. Council had received a written memorandum from the municipality’s solicitor that provided legal advice on the matter to be discussed. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege because the discussion involved consideration of written legal advice from the municipality’s legal advisor.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne to discuss the conditions of a purchase and sale agreement that had lapsed. The meeting was closed under the acquisition and disposition of land exception. Council’s discussion focused on whether to enter into a new agreement with the developer to further the project. The Ombudsman found that since the original agreement of purchase and sale had lapsed and council was discussing negotiations with the developer for a new agreement, disclosure of council’s discussions could have harmed the municipality’s bargaining positon. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss plans for a non-profit organization to acquire a house from a private individual. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because the municipality was not involved in either acquiring or disposing of land.

Town of Fort Erie

January 09, 201409 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss an agreement of purchase and sale for the Crystal Beach Gateway Project. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The municipality’s solicitor was present during the meeting. At the time of the meeting, there was a pending appeal before the Land Registry Tribunal with respect to absolute title on the property. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Town of Fort Erie

January 09, 201409 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss an agreement of purchase and sale for the Crystal Beach Gateway Project. The municipality’s solicitor was present during the meeting and responded to questions posed by council on the matter. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.