passing reference

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City of St. Catharines

February 14, 201914 February 2019

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of St. Catharines to discuss a proposed staff position, government relations adviser. The meeting was closed under the negotiations exception. During the discussion, there were passing references to municipal projects involving the provincial government that could potentially become part of the new position’s portfolio of responsibilities. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the negotiations exception because it focused on determining the role and nature of a new staff position, including employment details, rather than specifically formulating a detailed course of action with respect to current or future negotiations involving municipal-provincial projects. In addition, the discussion did not involve any information that could undermine the city’s bargaining position in future negotiations.

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 to discuss an application made under the Land Titles Act for a property located within the municipality. During the Ombudsman’s review, the municipality raised the solicitor-client advice exception as applicable to the closed meeting. During the meeting, staff briefly referenced legal advice that the municipality had previously received. The Ombudsman found that the legal advice was only briefly mentioned and not discussed further by council. Accordingly, the discussion did not fit within the solicitor-client advice exception.

Township of Lanark Highlands

January 04, 201804 January 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Lanark Highlands which relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the municipality’s staff-council communication structure. During the closed session, council discussed written legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor that touched upon several matters. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion generally focused on the legal opinion, however several times council’s discussion went beyond the written legal advice and into other matters. The Ombudsman found that the portion of council’s discussion beyond the written legal advice did not fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

Township of Lanark Highlands

January 04, 201804 January 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Lanark Highlands that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss financial software on a municipal-wide basis. During the closed session, council received written legal advice on several topics. There was no legal advice received on the financial software. The municipality suggested that the discussion about the software was merely incidental to its consideration of legal advice received on another topic. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about the financial software was neither brief or incidental to its discussion about the legal advice. Therefore, that portion of council’s discussion did not fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

Township of Laird

January 24, 201724 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Laird Fairgrounds Management Board to discuss an incident at a horse arena that involved township employees, members of the board, and members of the public. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The board’s discussion identified individuals by name and referred to allegations about conduct outside the scope of the individuals’ official roles. The Ombudsman found that the board referenced information in camera that had been discussed during the open portion of the meeting, but this was incidental to the main discussion, which focused on personal information.

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

September 08, 201608 September 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands to discuss the assignment of the Chief Administrative Officer’s (CAO) duties. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The discussion focused on the specific skills and work experience of identified employees who were being considered for the interim CAO role. There was a brief mention of the CAO hiring process which was incidental to the main discussion. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the personal matters exception because council discussed the qualification of identifiable individuals. The Ombudsman found that general consideration of the CAO hiring process would not have fit within this exception, however any such discussions were brief and incidental to the main discussion.

City of Owen Sound

June 05, 201405 June 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Owen Sound that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss withdrawing a funding pledge to a local hospital for the purchase of an MRI machine. During the discussion, the mayor mentioned meeting with an identified individual from local health services. The Ombudsman found that a passing reference or general remark made about a meeting between a member of council and a member of the public in his or her professional capacity does not bring a discussion within the parameters of the personal matters exception.