June 19, 202019 June 2020
The Ombudsman reviewed a series of emails exchanged by members of council that refers to an informal interaction between members of council on a prior date. Based on the information gathered during interviews, the Ombudsman was satisfied that no informal meeting took place.
June 10, 202010 June 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that a quorum of councillors for the Town of Pelham informally met to discuss a possible donation from a cannabis producer on January 9, 2020, contrary to the open meeting rules of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the informal discussion did not contravene the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements as the discussion did not materially advance council business as required by the Municipal Act. However, the Ombudsman found that the Town of Pelham acted without legal authority when it took action following this informal discussion. By failing to act through resolution and confirming by-law passed at a properly constituted council meeting, the municipality tried to shield its decision-making process from public scrutiny. These actions were contrary to law and wrong under section 21(1) of the Ombudsman Act.
August 02, 201902 August 2019
The Ombudsman received a complaint about a gathering that two council members attended on April 14, 2019. Council for Lambton Shores is composed of nine council members. The new definition of "meeting" in the Municipal Act, 2001 requires that a quorum of members be physically present in order for a gathering to be subject to open meeting requirements.
May 16, 201916 May 2019
The Ombudsman received a complaint that councillors had informally discussed a matter in private prior to the council meeting on January 10, 2019, contrary to the Municipal Act. The Ombudsman did not find any evidence that council contravened the Municipal Act’s meeting provisions when the Mayor spoke with a small number of councillors-elect at two gatherings before new councillors were sworn in. However, the Ombudsman cautioned that municipalities should be careful about having councillors-elect meet privately in this manner due to concerns about openness and transparency.
February 22, 201922 February 2019
Members of council for the City of Hamilton did not contravene the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 when they exchanged emails regarding a vacant council seat in June 2018. The new definition of “meeting” in the Act requires that a quorum be present, such that an exchange of emails cannot be considered a meeting subject to the open meeting rules. In the interest of openness and transparency, municipal councils should continue to avoid conducting business outside of a formal meeting.
August 21, 201821 August 2018
The Ombudsman reviewed two information sessions relating to the business of the municipality attended by a quorum of council for the Village of Casselman. The Ombudsman found that the council members did not materially advance the business of the municipality during these information sessions. The council members only received information about ongoing projects in the municipality. There was no discussion among the council members present and no decisions were made. Even though the Ombudsman found that these information sessions did not constitute meetings under the Municipal Act, 2001, in the interests of openness and transparency he encouraged council to receive information and updates of this nature during public meetings.
February 13, 201713 February 2017
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by members of the board of directors for the Walkerton Business Improvement Area (BIA) in the Municipality of Brockton to discuss one board member’s plans to circulate a petition. The Ombudsman found that the Walkerton BIA is subject to the open meeting rules as a local board. The Ombudsman found that a meeting did not occur for the purposes of the Municipal Act, 2001 because an insufficient number of members met to constitute a quorum.