zoning/planning

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Town of Deep River

May 09, 201809 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River relying on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss a development proposal that involved disposition of municipal property. During the meeting, council was provided with the developer’s detailed business plan that identified the financial strategy the developer intended to pursue to ensure the project’s success. At the time of council’s discussion, negotiations with the developer were ongoing. The Ombudsman found that council was entitled to discuss this matter in closed session under the acquisition or disposition of land closed meeting exception.

Township of Georgian Bay

January 19, 201719 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Georgian Bay to discuss a shoreline structure that did not meet the requirements of the township’s zoning by-law. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. During the meeting, council voted to pass a resolution regarding the shoreline structure. The Ombudsman found that the vote was not for a procedural matter or a direction to staff, and was therefore improper.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation and solicitor-client privilege exceptions. During the closed meeting, council voted to provide direction to staff regarding the preparation of a draft by-law. The Ombudsman found that since the closed meeting fit within the cited exception and the vote was for a direction to staff, the vote was therefore permissible.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law, relying on the solicitor-client advice exception. During the closed session, council received legal advice on the matter from the municipality’s solicitor. The Ombudsman considered the decision in Farber v. Kingston, which found that a description that only stated “legal matters” without more specifics was inadequate. In this case, the Ombudsman found that the resolution was sufficient as it contained a general description, which included the matter to be considered and the type of discussion that would ensue.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law for an area in the county. The Ombudsman noted that there was some confusion about council’s direction to staff during its closed session. The Ombudsman found that this confusion may have been avoided had council reported back in open session its direction to staff during closed session. The Ombudsman recommended that despite not being required by the Municipal Act, it is a best practice for council to report back in camera discussions in open session.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Norfolk County that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the development of a site specific zoning by-law. The municipality’s solicitor was present during the meeting and provided advice to council pertaining the different options for the zoning by-law and possible appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) pending council’s decision. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Norfolk County

November 07, 201607 November 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the County of Norfolk that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law. The Ombudsman noted that the municipality was aware that identifiable individuals planned to file an appeal of the enacted site-specific zoning by-law to the Ontario Municipal Board. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception because there was a reasonable prospect of litigation with respect to the site-specific zoning by-law.

Town of Midland

June 03, 201603 June 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Midland to discuss options related to a site plan agreement for a subdivision located in the municipality. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. The site plan agreement had been the subject of complaints by residents. At the time of the meeting there was no specific threat of litigation or pending litigation with respect to the site plan agreement. Council’s discussion focused on matters that theoretically could lead to litigation depending on how council proceeded. The nature of the matter and the tone of communications between the municipality, residents and the developer was contentious. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception because litigation or other legal action did not rise above mere speculation.

Village of Casselman

April 16, 201516 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Village of Casselman with local developers at a roundtable to discuss development within the municipality. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. The discussion was not general in nature and related to council business. The scope of the education or training exception extends to meetings that are closed to allow council members to receive information that may assist them in better understanding the business of the municipality and/or to acquire skills, rather than exchange information on an issue. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception.

City of London

April 24, 201424 April 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee for the City of London that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the municipality’s budget.  During the meeting, the committee discussed an industrial land strategy and particular land areas the municipality was interested in purchasing. The municipality’s solicitor was present and provided legal advice on the matter. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Carleton Place

January 16, 201416 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Carleton Place that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss litigation filed against the municipality regarding a development/permit dispute. Council met with the municipality’s solicitor and received legal advice about the litigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Carleton Place

January 16, 201416 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Carleton Place to discuss litigation filed against the municipality regarding a development/permit dispute. Council met with the municipality’s solicitor and received legal advice about the litigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception, even though it was not relied on by the municipality, because council was discussing a response to active litigation.

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. 

Township of Ryerson

November 08, 201308 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson to discuss a rezoning application for a quarry. The meeting was closed under the exception for solicitor-client privilege. The applicant was present during the closed session and reviewed with council the details related to a proposed haul route and site plan. The municipality’s solicitor wrote the cover letter that accompanied the site plan documents. The letter set out the solicitor’s position on the draft terms. The Ombudsman found that the presence of the applicant during the meeting constitutes a waiver of any solicitor-client privilege that might have applied to the discussion. Further, the solicitor’s letter contained comments directed at the third party, not legal advice to the municipality. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Ryerson

November 08, 201308 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss a rezoning application. Council had not yet reached a decision on the rezoning application. The Ombudsman found that since no decision had been reached on the application, and there was no pending litigation or notice of an intent to take specific legal action, there was no reasonable prospect of litigation, and therefore the discussion did not fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Township of Ryerson

November 08, 201308 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson to discuss a rezoning application with the applicant. Council and the applicant reviewed details related to a proposed haul route and site plan. Although the municipality did not rely on it, the Ombudsman considered whether the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception. The purpose of the litigation or potential litigation exception is to enable the parties to prepare their positions in private. The presence of the applicant in the closed meeting defeated that purpose. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

City of Greater Sudbury

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Greater Sudbury to discuss a pending appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) of a decision of council to deny a severance application. The meeting was closed under the litigation or potential litigation exception. During the meeting, council received information from staff relating to the upcoming OMB hearing. Council also received correspondence from a ministry with respect to the ministry’s position on the severance application. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Town of Midland

February 11, 201311 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Planning and Development Committee for the Town of Midland that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss a zoning dispute. The committee was considering a lawyer’s letter that identified specific legal action that would be taken if the zoning matter was not resolved. The Ombudsman found that the committee perceived that there was a real possibility of litigation based on the letter and was considering how to respond to the potential for legal action. Therefore, the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Township of Tiny

February 01, 201301 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Tiny that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss possible amendments to the zoning by-law. Council’s discussion mentioned the possibility that litigation could arise in the future as a result of the proposed amendments. There was no litigation ongoing or threatened at the time of the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception, and instead involved mere speculation.

Township of Tiny

February 01, 201301 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Tiny to discuss possible amendments to the zoning by-law. Council received legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding the possibility of future litigation as a result of the proposed amendments. Although not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Ryerson

January 04, 201304 January 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson to discuss a zoning application for a proposed quarry. Towards the end of the meeting, council received and reviewed a written memo from the municipality’s solicitor containing legal advice related to the application. While the municipality did not rely on the exception for solicitor-client privilege, the Ombudsman found that the portion of council’s discussion that considered the legal advice contained in the memorandum fit within that exception.

Township of Adelaide-Metcalfe

May 23, 201223 May 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Adelaide-Metcalfe that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a site plan agreement and cost-sharing proposal from a local developer. The developer’s representatives were present during the closed session. The Ombudsman found that solicitor-client privilege applies to communications between a lawyer and client that entails the seeking or giving of legal advice and is intended to be confidential by the parties. In order to qualify for the exception, the privilege must not be waived by the municipality. The Ombudsman found that the presence of third parties at the closed session constituted a waiver of the solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Kearney

January 17, 201117 January 2011

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Kearney that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss a rezoning application. As with any rezoning matter, there is the possibility that council’s decision would be appealed. However, the possibility of appeal is not sufficient to bring a matter within the realm of potential litigation. The Ombudsman found that council lacked the degree of certainty necessary to make the potential for litigation a reasonable prospect. Therefore, the matter did not fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

City of Oshawa

April 23, 200923 April 2009

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Development Services Committee for the City of Oshawa to receive information from a local composting operation related to odour complaints. The meeting was closed under the education or training exception. During the meeting, representatives from the composting operation discussed the rezoning of lands in the vicinity of the facility and the repercussions for the facility’s future plans. The Ombudsman found that while the committee did not deal with council business, the discussion went beyond the scope of education and into the realm of lobbying. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the education or training exception.

Township of Enniskillen

April 03, 200903 April 2009

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Enniskillen to discuss a proposal from local property owners to subdivide farmland located in the municipality. During the meeting, council considered advice from the municipality’s solicitor regarding the proposal and potential conditions that might be applied to it. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.