2024

May 21, 2024

21 May 2024

Township of McMurrich/Monteith

The Ombudsman investigated closed meetings held by council for the Township of McMurrich/Monteith on September 5 and September 14, 2023, during which Council discussed a potential disposal of municipally owned property. The Ombudsman found that council did not contravene the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001. The first portion of the closed meeting discussion on September 5 discussion fit within the exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege, and the second portion fit within the exception for the acquisition or disposition of land. The closed meeting discussion on September 14 fit within the exception for the acquisition or disposition of land.

May 9, 2024

9 May 2024

Municipality of Temagami

The Ombudsman investigated a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Temagami on June 20, 2023, during which council discussed previously owned property, a request to sell property, and issues related to a local long-term care home.

The Ombudsman found that council did not contravene the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 as these discussions fit within the exceptions for personal matters about an identifiable individual, acquisition or disposition of land, and litigation or potential litigation.

The Ombudsman also reviewed whether public notice was provided for the June 20, 2023 meeting, and found that the municipality had provided notice several days prior. The Ombudsman noted as a best practice that meeting minutes should be made available publicly available to improve accountability and transparency.

April 29, 2024

29 April 2024

Town of Amherstburg

The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding several meetings held by council for the Town of Amherstburg in 2022 and 2023. The complaint alleged that council contravened the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to provide sufficient information about the topics of discussion in resolutions to proceed into closed session on August 8, 2022, February 13, 2023, and March 27, 2023. The complaint also alleged that council held meetings on November 29 and 30, 2022, which were not livestreamed and were not open to the public, and that council failed to provide public notice of its February 14, 2023 training session.

The Ombudsman found that council contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to provide sufficient information about some of the topics of discussion in its resolutions to proceed into closed session. However, the Ombudsman found that the Town did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 on November 29 and 30, 2022, as he determined that the public could have attended the meetings in person, although he was unable to determine whether they were livestreamed. Likewise, council did not contravene the open meeting rules regarding notice of the February 14, 2023 meeting, as its training session did not come within the definition of meeting, and was therefore not subject to the open meeting rules.

The complaint also alleged that a gathering of members of the Town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee at a transit facility, where committee members were shown a demonstration of an accessible bus, in September 2022 was a meeting that was subject to the open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that the Town did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 on September 8, 2022, as the gathering at the transit facility did not materially advance the committee’s business or decision-making, and was not a meeting subject to the open meeting rules.

April 2, 2024

2 April 2024

Municipality of Calvin

The Ombudsman received a complaint about meetings held by the Municipality of Calvin’s Ad Hoc Code of Conduct Working Group and Ad Hoc Municipal Planning Working Group. The complaint alleged that these two bodies were committees of council, and that they did not provide the public with notice of their meetings, publish meeting agendas, or have someone clerk or record minutes of their meetings, contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Municipality’s procedural by-law. The complaint also raised procedural concerns that these bodies were not properly established by resolution or by-law.

The Ombudsman found that the Ad Hoc Code of Conduct Working Group and Ad Hoc Municipal Planning Working Group were established through council resolution and were committees of council. The Municipality contravened both the Municipal Act, 2001 and its procedural by-law in not providing notice of these groups’ meetings and in not having someone clerk or record minutes of their meetings. However, the Municipality did not violate either the Act or the Municipality’s procedural by-law by not providing members of the public with these groups’ meeting agendas.

February 20, 2024

20 February 2024

City of Elliot Lake

The Ombudsman received complaints that two closed meetings of council for the City of Elliot Lake did not fit into the closed meeting exceptions. The Ombudsman found that the meetings fit within the closed meeting exceptions except for a portion of one of the closed session discussions, which did not fit within the exception for personal matters.

February 13, 2024

13 February 2024

City of Kawartha Lakes

The Ombudsman reviewed a complaint that the City of Kawartha Lakes’ Short Term Rental Licensing Program Task Force may have held illegal meetings between April and June 2023, during the development of a by-law to licence, regulate, and govern short-term rental accommodation.

January 16, 2024

16 January 2024

City of London

The Ombudsman reviewed a complaint about a gathering held by members of the Community and Protective Services Committee of the City of London on March 21, 2023. The complaint alleged that a quorum of the committee held a tour with the Executive Director of a local non-profit organization and expressed concern that, a few hours later, the committee held a formal meeting, during which it voted to recommend approving conditional funding for the non-profit.

The Ombudsman found that the gathering constituted an illegal meeting under the open meeting rules, as a quorum of the committee was present and committee business was materially advanced during the gathering. The Ombudsman noted that the information received by committee members during the gathering could reasonably be construed as having informed their decision-making. The Ombudsman recommended that members who organize tours that may be subject to the open meeting rules should consult with City staff.

January 3, 2024

3 January 2024

Municipality of Casselman

The Ombudsman received complaints about a secret call held by members of council for the Municipality of Casselman on January 26, 2021. An audio recording of the call was inadvertently published on the Municipality’s website and the complainants were concerned that the discussion during the call advanced council business and constituted an illegal closed meeting under the Municipal Act, 2001.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found that a quorum of council for the Municipality of Casselman materially advanced matters that constituted council business during the call, that it constituted a “meeting” under the Municipal Act, 2001, and was a very serious violation of the open meeting rules.