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Township of the North Shore

August 13, 202013 August 2020

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of the North Shore relying on the exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege to discuss a draft by-law prepared by the township’s external solicitor. A third-party consultant, who also served as the township’s Integrity Commissioner, attended the meeting and provided comments on the draft by-law. The Ombudsman found that the presence of the consultant did not constitute a waiver of privilege and that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of the North Shore

August 13, 202013 August 2020

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of the North Shore relying on the exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege. A third-party consultant, who also served as the township’s Integrity Commissioner, attended the meeting. The Ombudsman found that council was entitled to rely on the exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege despite the presence of the consultant, but noted that a lack of consensus as to the consultant’s role at the meeting contributed to the impression that the meeting was improperly closed. The Ombudsman suggested, as a best practice, that meeting documents more clearly identify the capacity in which attendees participate in meetings if those attendees hold multiple positions within the township.

City of Hamilton

June 21, 201921 June 2019

The City of Hamilton’s General Issues Committee met in closed session to receive legal advice regarding the appropriateness of a topic for in camera consideration. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception because the committee received legal advice from the city solicitor and discussed the legal advice.

Town of Pelham

April 19, 201819 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Pelham to discuss an external consultant’s report to council regarding municipal financial information. The consultant was retained by the municipality’s lawyers to review and interpret the financial information provided by the town. The Ombudsman found that the consultant acted as a translator, interpreting the financial information and explaining it to the lawyers to allow them to formulate legal advice. While in closed session, the town’s treasurer also presented information about the municipality’s financial status. In most cases, information provided to council by staff about a municipality’s finances would not fit within any of the exceptions to the open meeting rules and should be discussed in open session. However, the Ombudsman found this part of the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception because the information provided by the treasurer was provided to allow the lawyers to understand the financial information, in order to provide legal advice to the town. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

Norfolk County

July 05, 201705 July 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to receive a deputation from representatives of the Port Dover Community Health Centre Board. The meeting was closed using the exception for solicitor-client privilege. During the meeting, the municipality’s solicitor provided legal advice to council. The Ombudsman found that these portions of the closed meeting fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

City of London

March 01, 201701 March 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Corporate Services Committee for the City of London to discuss the hiring policy for senior staff, relying on the solicitor-client privilege exception. The municipality informed the Ombudsman that municipal solicitors were present during the closed session and provided legal advice, and that nothing else was addressed. The Ombudsman noted that some municipalities choose to waive solicitor-client privilege and provide privileged information during an investigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

City of London

February 17, 201717 February 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by council for the City of London which relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the appointment of an integrity commissioner and a recent integrity commissioner report. Legal counsel was present during both meetings to answer questions and provide legal advice. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the development of a site specific zoning by-law. The municipality’s solicitor was present during the meeting and provided advice to council pertaining the different options for the zoning by-law and possible appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) pending council’s decision. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Municipality of Brockton (Walkerton BIA)

August 05, 201605 August 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the board of directors for the Walkerton Business Improvement Area to discuss a staff report and accompanying legal opinion that responded to issues raised in a letter written by the solicitor of a local business owner. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The board had reason to believe that the local business owner would initiate legal proceedings if he were unsatisfied with the board’s actions. The Ombudsman found that the board’s discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Town of Amherstburg

November 20, 201520 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss health and safety concerns raised by municipal employees. The municipality’s solicitor was present throughout the closed session and provided legal advice to council on the matters discussed. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee for the Township of Woolwich to discuss an opinion received from legal counsel that outlined steps that should be taken prior to pursuing civil action on a particular matter. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The Ombudsman found that although there was no litigation ongoing at the time of the meeting, there was a reasonable prospect of litigation. Therefore, the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Town of Cochrane

April 27, 201527 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Cochrane that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the Ombudsman’s recommendations made in a previous report. The municipality’s solicitor was present during the meeting and provided legal advice to council. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Niagara Falls

March 05, 201505 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a lease proposal from Marineland for municipal property. During the meeting, council discussed legal advice received from the municipality’s solicitor with respect to the lease. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Municipality of South Huron

March 02, 201502 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of South Huron to discuss an identified employee’s disagreement with the application of the municipality’s personnel policy. During the discussion, council received a legal opinion on the matter. Although not relied upon by council, the Ombudsman found that the portion of the discussion related to the solicitor’s advice fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Amherstburg

December 15, 201415 December 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the selection process for a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Council discussed the qualifications of an identifiable individual who applied for the position and expressed opinions about the individual. Throughout the discussion, the municipality’s solicitor provided advice. The Ombudsman found that the parts of the discussion related to the solicitor’s advice fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Welland

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the fact that a municipal staff member had written a cheque without council approval. The municipality’s solicitors were present during the closed session and provided legal advice regarding how councillors should respond to public concerns about the matter.  The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Welland

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss potential litigation against a party pertaining to the Flatwater Centre. The municipality’s solicitors were present and provided advice on the matter. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Joly

August 21, 201421 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Joly that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the performance of a specific municipal staff member. The municipality’s solicitor participated in the meeting via telephone to provide advice with respect to the employment matter. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Midland

June 23, 201423 June 2014
The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a civilian appointment to the police service board. During the meeting, the municipality’s solicitor was present, provided advice, and received instructions from council. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

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 exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the municipality’s budget.  During the meeting, the committee discussed an industrial land strategy and particular land areas the municipality was interested in purchasing. The municipality’s solicitor was present and provided legal advice on the matter. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Carleton Place

January 16, 201416 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Carleton Place to discuss litigation filed against the municipality regarding a development/permit dispute. Council met with the municipality’s solicitor and received legal advice about the litigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception, even though it was not relied on by the municipality, because council was discussing a response to active litigation.

Town of Carleton Place

January 16, 201416 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Carleton Place that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss litigation filed against the municipality regarding a development/permit dispute. Council met with the municipality’s solicitor and received legal advice about the litigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

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.

Municipality of Bluewater

December 19, 201319 December 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Bluewater that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a by-law related to building fees for wind turbines. During the meeting, the municipality’s solicitor was present and provided legal advice to council about the resolution of a dispute with various wind turbine companies, and the steps the municipality needed to take to avoid a lawsuit. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

Municipality of Bluewater

December 19, 201319 December 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Bluewater that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss a by-law to address building fees for wind turbines. During the meeting, the municipality’s solicitor gave advice about the resolution of a dispute with various wind turbine companies, and the steps the municipality needed to take to avoid a lawsuit. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Township of Bonfield

October 30, 201330 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Personnel Committee for the Township of Bonfield to discuss an ongoing hearing before the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The committee received legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding the hearing. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception because the committee was discussing ongoing litigation before a tribunal.

Township of North Dumfries

October 23, 201323 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of North Dumfries to discuss matters before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. Council received an update on the matters from the municipality’s solicitor. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception because council discussed two active appeals before a tribunal.

Township of North Dumfries

October 23, 201323 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of North Dumfries to discuss matters before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Council received an update on the matters from the municipality’s solicitor. Although not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Hamilton

June 17, 201317 June 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Hamilton to receive legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding altering a contract with a consultant. The meeting was closed under the exception for solicitor-client privilege. The solicitor identified options for council with respect to the contract and risks associated with those options. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

June 10, 201310 June 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a by-law with the municipality’s solicitor. When council returned to the open session, it passed a resolution to waive solicitor-client privilege and release two legal opinions on the matter. The Ombudsman found that despite the fact that council decided to waive privilege in open session, at the time of the closed session discussion council had sought legal advice that was intended to be confidential. Therefore, the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Pelham

April 16, 201316 April 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Pelham that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss an environmental protection by-law. During the closed session, the municipality’s legal counsel provided information and answered council’s questions about the by-law. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client.

Township of Tiny

February 01, 201301 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Tiny to discuss possible amendments to the zoning by-law. Council received legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding the possibility of future litigation as a result of the proposed amendments. Although not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Woolwich

January 31, 201331 January 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich to discuss a proposed aggregate pit. During the meeting, the municipality’s solicitor provided an update to council on the status of mediation before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) concerning the aggregate pit, and council reviewed draft minutes of settlement. While not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Woolwich

January 31, 201331 January 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss a proposed aggregate pit. During the meeting, the municipality’s solicitor provided an update to council on the status of mediation before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) concerning the aggregate pit, and council reviewed draft minutes of settlement. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Township of Ryerson

January 04, 201304 January 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson to discuss a zoning application for a proposed quarry. Towards the end of the meeting, council received and reviewed a written memo from the municipality’s solicitor containing legal advice related to the application. While the municipality did not rely on the exception for solicitor-client privilege, the Ombudsman found that the portion of council’s discussion that considered the legal advice contained in the memorandum fit within that exception.

City of London

March 19, 201219 March 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Committee of the Whole for the City of London that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the Occupy London protest. The Ombudsman found that the committee received legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor during the meeting including advice pertaining to potential litigation relating to the protest. Therefore, the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.