meeting (electronic)

Summaries List

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City of Hamilton

September 07, 202207 September 2022

The Ombudsman reviewed a complaint that two meetings, one held by the Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee and the Agriculture and the other by the Rural Affairs Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton, were improperly closed to the public because of livestream issues. The Ombudsman found that one meeting experienced a technical glitch causing the livestream to go down for a brief period of time, and was unable to determine the quality or availability of the livestream for the other meeting.

Municipality of Casselman

August 19, 202219 August 2022

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Municipality of Casselman held a closed session on May 27, 2021, when three members of council participated in a video call pertaining to a development project with a neighbouring municipality. The presence of two members of council was never disclosed to other participants on the video call. The complainant was concerned that this gathering constituted an illegal meeting under the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the video call did not contravene the Act because the discussions during the call were technical and informational in nature and did not materially advance council business or decision-making. However, the Ombudsman strongly encouraged the Municipality to maximize the transparency of its practices by disclosing the presence of all participants at any virtual gathering.

City of Hamilton

February 02, 202202 February 2022

The Ombudsman received a complaint about an electronic meeting held by the City of Hamilton’s Board of Health on August 11, 2021. The complaint alleged that during the meeting, the votes of individual Board members were not visible in real time. The Ombudsman found that there was no contravention of the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 at this meeting. All meeting proceedings were streamed live online. The results of each vote were also announced verbally. A technical malfunction prevented the streaming software from displaying the breakdown of votes on-screen in real time.

Saugeen Municipal Airport Commission

December 08, 202108 December 2021

The Ombudsman reviewed electronic meetings held by the Saugeen Municipal Airport Commission. The Ombudsman found that the Commission is a local board subject to the open meeting rules. The Commission contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to pass a procedure by-law governing its meetings and failing to provide adequate notice of its meetings. The Ombudsman further found that the Commission did not adequately notify members of the public about how to request readmission to the portion of an open meeting following a closed session. The Ombudsman commended the Commission’s efforts to increase transparency through changes to its public notice process and adoption of a formal procedure to ensure that observers are adequately informed about how to observe portions of a meeting occurring after a closed session. The Ombudsman recommended that the Commission adopt a procedure by-law providing for public notice of all meetings and that the Commission ensure the public is able to observe all open portions of meetings.

Municipality of Temagami

December 01, 202101 December 2021

The Ombudsman found that the resolution passed by council during a meeting on March 8, 2021 adequately provided a general description of the matter to be discussed in camera. However, council contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to ensure the public could observe the passage of the resolution to proceed in camera during its meetings on March 8, 2021 and March 25, 2021. Whenever the public is excluded from in-person attendance, it is imperative that the alternative electronic format selected enables the public to observe all portions of the meeting except the duly constituted and permitted closed portions. This includes the resolution to go in camera and any business or report back that occurs after council has reconvened in open session. Publishing a recording of a meeting after it has already taken place is not a substitute for enabling the public to observe a meeting while it is happening.

Township of Bonfield

July 14, 202114 July 2021

The Ombudsman found that the Township of Bonfield violated the open meeting rules when it held meetings in May and June 2020 over Zoom, without broadcasting or otherwise making the meetings accessible to the public. The Ombudsman recognized that these were the first meetings held by the Township during the COVID-19 pandemic, but noted that the pandemic did not alter the open meeting requirements.

City of Niagara Falls

July 08, 202108 July 2021
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by the City of Niagara Falls. Council met in closed session prior to the regular meeting. Council’s resolution stating the general nature of the subjects to be discussed in camera was not broadcast live. The Ombudsman found that this contravened the requirements of section 239(4)(a) of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman recommended that the City ensure that the public is able to observe all open portions of electronic meetings including the resolution to go in camera.

City of Hamilton

June 23, 202123 June 2021
The Ombudsman received complaints about vote results displayed to the public during electronic meetings held by the City of Hamilton. The complainants alleged that the results of a vote held by the City’s Board of Health during an electronic meeting on February 19, 2021, were not entirely visible to the public, contrary to the open meeting rules outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001. The City agreed to continue monitoring its electronic meeting software and to take appropriate measures to ensure that the vote results of electronic meetings are displayed in their entirety. 

City of Greater Sudbury

May 12, 202112 May 2021
The Ombudsman reviewed an electronic meeting held by the City of Greater Sudbury. Council met in closed session prior to the regular meeting. Council’s resolution stating the general nature of the subjects to be discussed in camera was not broadcast live. The Ombudsman found that this contravened the requirements of section 239(4)(a) of the Act. The Ombudsman recommended that the City ensure that the public is able to observe all open portions of electronic meetings including the resolution to go in camera.

City of Hamilton

April 22, 202122 April 2021
The Ombudsman reviewed an electronic meeting held by the LGBTQ advisory committee for the City of Hamilton. The Ombudsman found that during the open portion of the meeting, the public livestream was unavailable due to technical issues. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that while the livestream was down, the public was excluded from the meeting and the meeting was illegally closed.

City of Richmond Hill

March 31, 202131 March 2021

The Ombudsman reviewed several electronic meetings held by the City of Richmond Hill where council’s resolution to go in camera was not broadcast live. The Ombudsman found that this contravened the requirements of section 239(4)(a) of the Act. The Ombudsman recommended that the City ensure that the public is able to observe all open portions of electronic meetings including the resolution to go in camera and any business conducted after rising from closed session. This recommendation includes meetings where the only item on the agenda is an in camera matter. The Ombudsman also recommended that the City ensure that information on how to access the live broadcast of an electronic meeting is provided in all meeting notices.  

Village of Westport

March 12, 202112 March 2021
The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding two meetings held by council for the Village of Westport on September 15, 2020. The complaint alleged that due to a technical issue, council did not livestream the virtual committee of the whole or special council meeting for the public. The complaint alleged that, as a result, these meetings were closed to the public contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman confirmed that the public was excluded from these meetings due to technical issues and that as a result, they were improperly closed to the public.
 

Greater Napanee BIA

January 05, 202105 January 2021
The Ombudsman investigated the meeting practices of the Greater Napanee BIA, who had been holding electronic meetings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ombudsman’s investigation found no evidence that the BIA had amended its procedure by-law to allow electronic participants to count for quorum. The Ombudsman urged the Greater Napanee BIA to ensure that its meetings are in compliance with the Municipal Act’s quorum requirements.

Township of Russell

April 17, 202017 April 2020

The Ombudsman reviewed a special meeting held by council for the Township of Russell via electronic participation. Members were permitted to participate electronically and be counted toward quorum as a state of emergency had been declared pursuant to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The Ombudsman commended the Township for taking steps to ensure members of the public were advised of how to observe the live broadcast of the meeting and urged all municipalities to ensure electronic meetings are accessible to the public.