land transaction (speculative)

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Town of Carleton Place

November 22, 201822 November 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the policy review committee for the Town of Carleton Place that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the sale of two municipally-owned properties. The properties were located in the municipality’s industrial park. Although the properties had not been listed for sale, the municipality had a long term strategic project to sell its property within the industrial park. Council’s discussion focused on the impending sale of the properties, including declaring the lands surplus and setting a price per acre. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Deep River

May 09, 201809 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River relying on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss a development proposal that involved disposition of municipal property. During the meeting, council was provided with the developer’s detailed business plan that identified the financial strategy the developer intended to pursue to ensure the project’s success. At the time of council’s discussion, negotiations with the developer were ongoing. The Ombudsman found that council was entitled to discuss this matter in closed session under the acquisition or disposition of land closed meeting exception.

Town of Fort Erie

April 18, 201818 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss a potential partnership with a post-secondary institution. The meetings were closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the discussions, staff presented information on the basic concept of the partnership, and council discussed the need for the town to rent, lease, or purchase property to house the project, including properties that may be of interest if the partnership moved forward. The Ombudsman found that at the time of the meetings, council was in the early stages of decision-making, had not turned its mind to protecting its bargaining position in property negotiations, and had not taken any practical steps to acquiring land. Therefore, council’s discussions did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Niagara Falls

November 03, 201603 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss a proposal to develop a university campus in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the discussion, staff provided information on the potential effect of the development on municipally-owned properties, and the possibility of expropriation. The Ombudsman found that at the time of the meeting, there were no land transactions in progress and council was not taking practical steps to dispose of its properties. Rather,  council was primarily concerned about the sensitive nature of the business information discussed. Therefore, council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Armour Township and Village of Burk's Falls

October 28, 201528 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a joint closed meeting held by council for the Village of Burk’s Falls and council for Armour Township to discuss possible amalgamation of the two municipalities. At the time of the meeting, there were no land transactions in progress nor was either municipality contemplating purchasing or selling any land. Any discussions about land transactions were speculative. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Village of Burk's Falls and Armour Township

October 28, 201528 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a joint closed meeting held by council for the Village of Burk’s Falls and council for Armour Township to discuss possible amalgamation of the two municipalities. At the time of the meeting, there were no land transactions in progress nor was either municipality contemplating purchasing or selling any land. Any discussions about land transactions were speculative. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

October 06, 201506 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the Wiarton Keppel International Airport. Council discussed in closed session the potential purchase or sale of the airport, the airport management board, and a contract for airport fuel tank removal. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about the airport management board and the airport fuel tank removal contract was directly related to the proposed purchase of the airport and the municipality’s negotiating strategy. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich to discuss whether council was willing to sell a particular property to a local school board for a new school. 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.

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 Elliot Lake

April 24, 201524 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss a request from a property owner to extend the time required to finish the exterior of buildings located in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The property was originally owned by the municipality. If the owner failed to finish the exterior within the allotted time, the municipality could repurchase the property at 80% of the purchase price. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion involved the reacquisition of a property by a municipality. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land 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 hear a presentation of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the meeting, council may have briefly discussed a purely speculative disposition of land. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because the discussion was purely speculative and did not involve an imminent purchase or sale of land. Accordingly, there was no bargaining position to protect.

Town of Fort Erie

July 22, 201422 July 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss a proposal for the municipality to purchase vacant industrial land. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Council also discussed a grant for a local racetrack to continue to operate. The grant and the proposed purchase of the vacant industrial land were related as the land deal could not proceed if the racetrack was not operational. Representatives from the racetrack were present during the closed session to address questions from council. The grant is not a matter that would normally fit within the cited exception. However, the Ombudsman found that the discussion about the proposed acquisition of land was directly related to the grant for the racetrack and it would not have been feasible to parse the discussion. Therefore the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of London

April 24, 201424 April 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee for the City of London that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss the municipality’s land development. The committee received a report from staff that referenced lands the municipality was interested in purchasing or for which it had initiated negotiations to purchase. The Ombudsman found that the discussion 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.

Municipality of Markstay-Warren

December 19, 201319 December 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Markstay-Warren to discuss a proposed land acquisition for a new municipal garage. The meeting was closed using the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Council’s discussion focused on identifying an acceptable purchase price. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Tiny

February 01, 201301 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Tiny that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss an appraisal of property that the township was considering purchasing. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Municipality of Morris-Turnberry

August 30, 201230 August 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Morris-Turnberry to discuss a confidential report about fire services. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The report included information about a potential land acquisition, including the proposed offer price for the land. The report also included information about an overall cost analysis and comparison of fire service options. The Ombudsman found that normally that type of information would not fit within the exception, however the information was presented as background to inform council’s decision on the land acquisition. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

City of Hamilton

December 28, 201128 December 2011

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Hamilton that relied on the exception for acquisition or disposition of land to hear a presentation by McMaster University about a proposal to acquire lands owned by the local school board for a campus. The Ombudsman found that the presentation and council’s discussion did not fit within the exception because it was not the municipality or a local board that would be acquiring or disposing of the land. A school board is not a local board for the purposes of the Municipal Act, 2001.

Township of Enniskillen

April 03, 200903 April 2009

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Enniskillen to discuss a proposal from local property owners to subdivide farmland located in the municipality. During the meeting, council considered advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding the proposal and potential conditions that might be applied to it. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.