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City of Hamilton

June 21, 201921 June 2019

The City of Hamilton’s General Issues Committee met in closed session to discuss the municipality’s contribution to the local Canadian Football League team’s bid for the Grey Cup championship game. The committee cited the exception for information belonging to the municipality when it moved in camera. The city claimed that the information discussed was a trade secret because it included details about how the city allocates funding to large-scale events generally. The city also claimed that the information had monetary value because if the amount of the city’s contribution was disclosed, it would negatively affect the city’s competitive position for the Grey Cup bid and other large-scale events in the future. The Ombudsman found that the information was not a trade secret but qualified as financial information. The Ombudsman also found that the information belonged to the municipality. However, the Ombudsman found that the while the city may suffer economic loss if the information were disclosed, there was no indication that the information itself had any monetary value. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the exception for information belonging to the muncipality.

City of Hamilton

June 21, 201921 June 2019

The City of Hamilton’s General Issues Committee met in closed session to discussion the municipality’s contribution to the local Canadian Football League (CFL) team’s bid for the Grey Cup championship game. The committee cited the negotiations exception when it moved in camera. During the discussion the committee reviewed staff’s negotiations with the CFL team up to that point, and discussed whether or not to approve a recommended financial contribution. The committee also provided staff with specific steps on how to proceed in negotiations. The Ombudsman found that the four-part test for the exception for negotiations was satisifed because while in camera, the committee formulated a plan and directed staff with respect to the municipality’s ongoing negotiations with the CFL team.

Town of Amherstburg

June 29, 201829 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed closed meetings held by the Joint Police Advisory Committee and council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss draft request for proposals for police services. Although not cited at the time, the clerk told the Ombudsman that the “permissible under another act” exception would have applied because the meetings could have been closed under the Police Services Act.  The Police Services Act lists two exceptions allowing closed meetings of the police services board. The Ombudsman found that there was no evidence that the committee considered whether the Police Services Act would apply to its discussions, and no evidence provided that the local police services board discussed the request for proposals in closed session under the Police Services Act. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that this exception did not apply to the committee and council meetings.

Town of Amherstburg

June 29, 201829 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed closed meetings held by the Joint Police Advisory Committee for the Town of Amherstburg relying on the security of the property exception to discuss draft request for proposals for police services and the viability of a proposal. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not include potential threats, or loss or damage to municipal property. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the security of the property exception.

City of Timmins

May 09, 201709 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins, which relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss an open procurement project. The municipality held the meeting in closed session due to concerns that an unsuccessful bidder might initiate legal proceedings against the municipality. The Ombudsman found that the litigation or potential litigation exception applies in the context of anticipated litigation where there is more than a remote possibility litigation may commence, although the litigation need not be a certainty. While it is not unusual for litigation initiated by unsuccessful bidders to occur at the conclusion of the procurement process, in this case, the municipality’s concern that litigation could occur was speculative. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Norfolk County

June 06, 201606 June 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council-in-committee for Norfolk County that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a request for proposals for a construction contract in the municipality. During the closed session, staff conveyed legal advice received regarding the vendors that had bid on the contract. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield that relied on on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss the tender process for small equipment. During the discussion the committee considered various courses of action related to the municipality’s tender process in order to mitigate the potential for litigation from an identified source. The Ombudsman found that although there was no litigation ongoing at the time of the meeting, it was a reasonable prospect under consideration and not mere speculation. Therefore, the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield to discuss the tender process for small equipment. The meeting was closed under the exception for matters permissible to be closed under another act. The municipality believed that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act permitted the discussion to take place in closed session. The Ombudsman found that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act does not contain provisions which permit tender discussions to occur in closed session. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for matters permissible to be closed under another act.

City of Welland

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland to discuss whether the municipality should support a bid by a local corporation to host the 2016 Pan American canoe sprint championships. The meeting was closed under the security of the property exception. Council cited the exception because it believed the chance of a successful bid would be diminished if detailed information about the bid was made public. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the security of the property exception because council did not discuss preventing loss or damage to the bid. Although council had a desire to maintain confidentiality to protect the interests of the city, section 239(2)(a) of the Municipal Act, 2001 does not apply to a matter that is only considered sensitive or confidential, or against the municipality’s interests to discuss publicly.

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.