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Township of Alfred and Plantagenet

May 10, 201710 May 2017

Council for the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet participated in working sessions with a consultant with respect to a proposed organizational study. The Ombudsman reviewed the working sessions. A council member described these sessions as being confidential, akin to solicitor-client privilege. The Ombudsman found that the Municipal Act, 2001 does not contain any exceptions to protect confidential discussions with consultants who are not solicitors representing a municipality. As council did not receive advice from a solicitor during the working sessions, the solicitor-client privilege exception could not apply.

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

December 29, 201629 December 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss ongoing airport fee negotiations and related airport upgrades. The Ombudsman found that the commission did not discuss any legal advice during the meeting. There was no solicitor or related communication. The Ombudsman noted that the fact that airport fees may be incorporated by a lawyer into a future contract does not mean the discussion was subject to solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the commission’s discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Niagara District Airport Commission)

December 29, 201629 December 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss ongoing airport fee negotiations and related airport upgrades. The Ombudsman found that the commission did not discuss any legal advice during the meeting. There was no solicitor or related communication. The Ombudsman noted that the fact that airport fees may be incorporated by a lawyer into a future contract does not mean the discussion was subject to solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the commission’s discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of St. Catharines (Niagara District Airport Commission)

December 29, 201629 December 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss ongoing airport fee negotiations and related airport upgrades. The Ombudsman found that the commission did not discuss any legal advice during the meeting. There was no solicitor or related communication. The Ombudsman noted that the fact that airport fees may be incorporated by a lawyer into a future contract does not mean the discussion was subject to solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the commission’s discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Niagara Falls

November 03, 201603 November 2016

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 proposal to develop a university campus in the municipality’s downtown area. Council’s discussion focused on a development funding partnership with a post-secondary institution. The municipality’s solicitor was present during the closed session; however, the Ombudsman found that he did not provide any legal advice or participate in the discussion. Therefore, council’s discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Norfolk County

May 10, 201610 May 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council-in-committee for Norfolk County to discuss the extension of legal services contracts with two law firms. The committee discussed the hourly rate proposed by each firm. While the municipality did not rely on the exception for solicitor-client privilege, the Ombudsman considered whether it would apply to the discussion. The Ombudsman found that it was unclear from existing jurisprudence whether the hourly rate of a lawyer (as opposed to the total amount of legal fees paid under a retainer) is presumptively sheltered under solicitor-client privilege. However, any presumption would be rebutted because the committee did not directly or indirectly reveal any communication protected by privilege by disclosing the lawyers’ hourly rate. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the committee’s discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

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 that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a report on a property encroachment issue. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the exception because the report contained no legal advice or privileged information.

Township of Ryerson

November 08, 201308 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson to discuss a rezoning application for a quarry. The meeting was closed under the exception for solicitor-client privilege. The applicant was present during the closed session and reviewed with council the details related to a proposed haul route and site plan. The municipality’s solicitor wrote the cover letter that accompanied the site plan documents. The letter set out the solicitor’s position on the draft terms. The Ombudsman found that the presence of the applicant during the meeting constitutes a waiver of any solicitor-client privilege that might have applied to the discussion. Further, the solicitor’s letter contained comments directed at the third party, not legal advice to the municipality. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Municipality of Central Huron

March 13, 201313 March 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Central Huron that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss matters involving a shared services provider. The municipality’s solicitor was not present during the meeting. The Ombudsman found that council did not discuss a specific piece of legal advice during the meeting. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a request for proposals process. The Ombudsman found that the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss legal advice; rather, the commission discussed the status of draft lease agreements. The commission’s solicitor was not present during the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a request for proposals process. The Ombudsman found that the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss legal advice; rather, the commission discussed the status of draft lease agreements. The commission’s solicitor was not present during the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of St. Catharines (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 22, 201322 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a request for proposals process. The Ombudsman found that the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss legal advice; rather, the commission discussed the status of draft lease agreements. The commission’s solicitor was not present during the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.