professional capacity

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Township of Lanark Highlands

January 04, 201804 January 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Lanark Highlands to discuss involvement of a council member in the financial administration of the township. The meeting was closed using the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that generally, discussions of a council member’s actions in the course of their duties are considered to be of a professional nature. However, the in camera discussion about the council member touched upon information that was speculative and also involved scrutiny of the councillor’s conduct that went beyond their official capacity as a member of council. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Cornwall

December 05, 201705 December 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Cornwall that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss the Cornwall Regional Airport. During the discussion, council reviewed the performance and conduct of commission members and another individual. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion went beyond the individuals’ professional roles, and if that information were to be disclosed, it would reveal something of a personal nature about the individuals. Accordingly, the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Town of Deep River

October 03, 201703 October 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River to discuss a police services consultation plan. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The municipality relied on this exception because a section of a former police chief’s employment contract was discussed and police service employees would be identifiable in the community even if they were not named. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not involve any named individuals, and employees were not discussed in a personal capacity. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

Norfolk County

July 05, 201705 July 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the County of Norfolk to receive a deputation from representatives of the Port Dover Community Health Centre Board. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. The deputation related to the board’s operations and included a request that the county release an installment of a monetary grant. The municipality highlighted that the deputation contained information that could affect the personal lives of individual members of the board. The Ombudsman acknowledged that the board was composed of volunteers, however, the deputation contained information that was professional in nature and related to the business of the board. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of Alfred and Plantagenet

May 10, 201710 May 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Alfred and Plantagenet. Council closed a meeting to discuss matters under, among other exceptions, the personal matters exception. During the closed session, council added an item to the in camera agenda with respect to a consulting firm’s bid to conduct an organizational study of the municipality. The individuals working at the firm and their qualifications were identified in the proposal documents. However, the Ombudsman found that the personal matters exception did not apply in the circumstances because the discussion was in the context of a proposed professional relationship with the township.

Municipality of Temagami

February 09, 201709 February 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Temagami to discuss an allegation that the mayor had contravened the municipality’s code of conduct. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the discussion, council considered whether enough information had been received to proceed with a code of conduct complaint against the mayor. The Ombudsman found that it was not clear whether the mayor was acting in a professional or personal capacity during the incident that gave rise to the code of conduct complaint, and council was considering an unproven allegation against the mayor. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of McKellar

December 04, 201504 December 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Economic Development Committee for the Township of McKellar to discuss comments about the committee made by two councillors and two members of the public. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The committee’s discussion focused on the conduct and comments of the councillors, the two members of the public, and ways the committee could respond to that conduct.

The Ombudsman found that the discussion about the conduct of the two members of the public fit within the personal matters exception. Normally, the discussion about the conduct of the two councillors would not fit within the exception, as it related to the individuals’ conduct in their official roles as councillors. However, the Ombudsman found that it is unrealistic to expect the committee to have parsed the discussion about the members of the public from that of the councillors when the two discussion topics were directly related.

Township of Woolwich

August 10, 201510 August 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Woolwich that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss volunteer recreation associations. Council discussed entering into affiliation service agreements with each recreation association that operated parks and facilities on behalf of the municipality. The Ombudsman found that the discussion pertained to the associations in general, rather than individual volunteers. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Niagara Falls

March 05, 201505 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss staff conduct related to a future university campus located in the downtown area of the municipality. The discussion also included questions about whether the mayor and certain staff members had complied with their professional obligations. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not include topics that were inherently personal in nature. Rather, questions about staff conduct were general in nature or about individuals in their professional capacities. Therefore, council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

Town of Cochrane

January 12, 201512 January 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Cochrane, which relied on the personal matters exception to discuss a contract with a specific member of the public. In addition to professional information, council’s discussion included information about the individual’s credibility and conduct. Although the exception does not apply to professional or business information about an individual, information will be considered personal information where an individual’s conduct is scrutinized. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Elliot Lake

September 08, 201408 September 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss unproven allegations against a member of council. The Ombudsman noted that information about an individual in their professional capacity takes on a more personal nature if it relates to scrutiny of that person’s conduct. In this case, council was considering unproven allegations against a council member that had not been investigated or made public at the time. This portion of the discussions fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of Russell

August 08, 201408 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss municipal infrastructure projects. Council referred to contractors in their professional capacity during its discussion. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception because the discussion did not address anything of an inherently personal nature.

Town of Midland

February 04, 201404 February 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland to discuss a council member’s request for indemnification for legal fees incurred as a police services board member. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception because the discussion related to the council member in his official capacity and much of the information was already known to the public. 

City of Timmins

November 14, 201314 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins to consider a complaint against a resident with respect to a zoning by-law infraction. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the closed meeting, council received delegations from the complainant and a resident. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the personal matters exception because information was presented to council that involved an investigation or assessment of the performance or alleged improper conduct of the property owner. 

Town of Fort Erie

May 09, 201309 May 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss an alleged breach of the municipality’s code of conduct by the mayor. Council’s discussion related to public comments made by the mayor. The Ombudsman found that the mayor’s comments were made in the course of his official duties and in relation to municipal business. Council’s discussions did not pertain to the mayor in his personal capacity, but rather involved the mayor’s professional capacity. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception. 

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss comments about the commission made by a local mayor. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the commission considered how to respond to the mayor’s official comments. The Ombudsman found that the discussion of the mayor’s professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

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

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss comments about the commission made by a local mayor. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the commission considered how to respond to the mayor’s official comments. The Ombudsman found that the discussion of the mayor’s professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

City of St. Catharines (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss comments about the commission made by a local mayor. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the commission considered how to respond to the mayor’s official comments. The Ombudsman found that the discussion of the mayor’s professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.