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The Ombudsman found that a training session for council for the Township of Emo on its new budget format fit within the exception for education and training since council received training and did not materially advance its business or decision-making. As council did not materially advance its business or decision-making, the training session was not a meeting subject to the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Township’s procedure by-law. As such, the Township was not required to provide notice of the training session.
The Ombudsman found that, in a resolution to close a meeting on June 23, 2020, council for the Township of Emo failed to state the general nature of the subjects to be discussed. Instead, council only referenced the Municipal Act exceptions relied upon to close the meetings. The description of the subjects to be discussed was included in the meeting’s agenda. The Ombudsman found that the Township of Emo contravened the requirements of section 239(4)(a) of the Act by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the matters to be considered in camera.
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of Emo contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on June 23, 2020. The complaint alleged that council’s discussion relating to a “Council Code of Conduct” matter did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001. The investigation determined that council’s discussion related to one councillor’s concern about emails that other named councillors had received from citizens of the municipality, and allegedly responded to. The names of the citizens who sent these emails and the content of the correspondence was also disclosed. The councillor discussed feelings, concerns, and opinions about identified councillors’ conduct in relation to the emails. The Ombudsman found that this discussion fit within the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual.
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by council for the Township of Emo. Notice of the meeting was provided in accordance with its procedure by-law. The notice provided for the minimum information required, the date, time and place of the meeting. The Ombudsman found that many municipalities require that an agenda listing the matters to be discussed be publicly posted in advance of the meeting - a practice that is consistent with the intent of the open meeting rules. Advance public notice of a meeting should include all items to be considered at a meeting, including a general description of subjects to be considered in closed session. Items that have not been the subject of advance notice should only be considered in rare circumstances where urgency does not permit the normal notice requirements to be met, and after additional procedural requirements have been satisfied.