2015

December 4, 2015

4 December, 2015

Township of McKellar

We received a complaint that the Economic Development Committee for the Township of McKellar held an illegal meeting over email in April 2015 and in person on May 5, 2015. Our review found that the committee contravened the Act and the township's procedure by-law by holding a closed meeting and vote over email between April 22 and 24, 2015. We also found that the committee discussed a matter in camera on May 5 that did not fit within the exceptions in the Act. The Ombudsman noted that, at the time of the meetings, the committee was comprised entirely of volunteer members who acted in good faith while trying to deal with a difficult relationship with council. A number of recommendations were made to assist the township in improving its open meeting practices.

December 1, 2015

1 December, 2015

Heads of Council in West Parry Sound

We received a complaint that the heads of council for seven municipalities in West Parry Sound (the Township of Carling, the Municipality of Whitestone, the Town of Parry Sound, the Township of The Archipelago, Seguin Township, the Municipality of McDougall, and the Township of McKellar) have been holding illegal closed meetings, including on February 19, 2015. Our review found that the heads of council gatherings are not meetings for the purposes of the open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman encouraged the heads of council to consider opening their gatherings to the public, given the public interest in many of the matters they discuss.

November 28, 2015

28 November, 2015

Regional Municipality of Niagara

We received a complaint that the May 13, 2015 inaugural meeting of the Long Term Care Task Force for the Niagara Region was illegally closed to the public. Our investigation found that this meeting contravened the open meeting provisions of the Municipal Act, 2001 and the region's procedure by-law. Notice of the meeting was not provided, no procedure was followed to close the meeting to the public, and, even if this procedure had been followed, the task force's discussion did not fall within any of the closed meeting exceptions. A number of recommendations were made to assist the task force in improving its open meeting practices. ​

November 26, 2015

26 November, 2015

City of Owen Sound

The Ombudsman found that the May 25 and June 15, 2015 social gatherings attended by councillors for the City of Owen Sound did not contravene the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001. In addition, the Ombudsman found that council did not contravene the Act on April 27, 2015 when it went in camera to receive legal advice to related to council’s faith blessing. The Ombudsman did not make any recommendations to council.

November 23, 2015

23 November, 2015

Township of Bonfield

The Ombudsman found that the May 19 and June 2, 2015 closed session discussions of the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield did not violate the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001.  However, the Ombudsman did identify several procedural violations and made a number of recommendations to improve local practices in the interest of transparency and accountability.

November 23, 2015

23 November, 2015

Township of West Lincoln

The Ombudsman found that the June 15, 2015 closed session discussion of the Administration/Finance/Fire Committee of the Township of West Lincoln did not violate the open meeting requirements of the <i>Municipal Act, 2001</i>. The Ombudsman also found that the June 22, 2015 closed session discussion by council for the Township of West Lincoln did not violate the Act’s open meeting provisions. Both meetings fell within the exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege. However, the Ombudsman identified several issues with the township's closed meeting procedures and made recommendations to improve council's practices.

November 20, 2015

20 November, 2015

Town of Amherstburg

We received complaints that council for the Town of Amherstburg held illegal closed meeting on January 10 and June 2, 2015. Our review found that the discussions on January 10 fit within the exceptions for personal matters about an identifiable individual and solicitor-client privilege. We found that the discussions on June 2 fit within the exceptions for personal matters about an identifiable individual, solicitor-client privilege, and labour relations or employee negotiations.

November 19, 2015

19 November, 2015

City of Port Colborne

We received a complaint that council for the City of Port Colborne held illegal meetings on March 8, 2010, January 27, 2014, and December 8, 2014. Our review found that the council discussions on March 8, 2010 fit within the exceptions for
acquisition or disposition of land and personal matters about an identifiable individual. Discussions on January 27, 2014 fit within the exceptions for personal matters, acquisition or disposition of land, and advice subject to solicitor-client privilege.

On December 8, 2014, the city held an illegal closed meeting. Council's discussions regarding corporate expansion projects, a non-profit organization, and the disposition of city-owned shares in a company did not fit within any of the exceptions to the open meeting rules. Our Office advised the City to cite the proper exception to close a meeting, provide more specificity in the resolution to close a meeting, and avoid talking about matters in camera that do not fit within an exception in the Act.

November 9, 2015

9 November, 2015

City of Niagara Falls

The Ombudsman found that the council for the City of Niagara Falls did not violate the open meeting provisions of the Municipal Act, 2001 when it informally discussed the council prayer on April 28, 2015.

November 9, 2015

9 November, 2015

City of Elliot Lake

The Ombudsman found that council for the City of Elliot Lake did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 during in-camera meetings on April 13 and April 17, 2015. In addition, there was no evidence that an informal meeting took place on April 17, 2015 following the meeting of council. The Ombudsman also found that an April 20, 2015 gathering of three members of council was not a meeting for the purposes of the open meeting requirements of the Act.

November 2, 2015

2 November, 2015

Township of Russell

Our Office found that council for the Township of Russell held an illegal closed meeting on June 1, 2015 when it went in camera to view a rebranding presentation for the township. The rebranding presentation did not fall within the exception for education and training sessions, or any other exception, to the open meeting requirements. We also found that the municipality violated section 239(4)(a) of the Act by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the topics to be considered in closed session.

November 2, 2015

2 November, 2015

Municipality of Brighton

Our Office found that the discussions held by council for the Municipality of Brighton on May 28, 2015 fit within the closed meeting exceptions in the Municipal Act. However, council technically contravened the voting provisions of the Municipal Act and the township’s procedure by-law when it voted on five resolutions in camera. While the purpose and effect of the resolutions was to provide direction to staff, they were not worded as such. Our Office also found that the municipality violated section 239(4)(a) of the Act by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the topics to be considered in closed session.

October 30, 2015

30 October, 2015

Town of Essex

The Ombudsman found that the Town of Essex held an illegal closed meeting when it exercised its authority and decided through a series of emails in April 2015 to modify the council prayer. The Ombudsman acknowledged that council and staff acted in good faith in order to ensure compliance with the law as clarified by the Supreme Court of Canada. In their haste, however, they failed to turn their minds to the need for transparency and the open meeting requirements contained in the Municipal Act.

October 28, 2015

28 October, 2015

Village of Burk's Falls / Armour Township

The Ombudsman found that, when councils for Armour Township and the Village of Burk’s Falls met in camera on January 16, 2015, parts of the discussion did not fit within the exceptions in to the open meeting rules in the Act. The councils also failed to comply with a number of procedural rules in the Act and their respective procedure by-laws. A number of recommendations were made to each municipality to improve local practices in the interest of transparency and accountability.

October 6, 2015

6 October, 2015

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula voted illegally during several closed sessions discussing the Wiarton Keppel International Airport, all of which were closed under the “acquisition or disposition of land” exception to the open meeting provisions of the <i>Municipal Act, 2001</i> (the Act). The complaint also alleged other procedural irregularities, informal gatherings and a serial meeting by email. The Ombudsman found that the town did not contravene the open meeting requirements of the Act, though he did identify best practices and procedural step to further improve the town's meeting practices.

August 10, 2015

10 August, 2015

Township of Woolwich

The Ombudsman found that council for the Township of Woolwich contravened the Municipal Act during in-camera discussions on January 13, January 20 and February 3, 2015, as well as when it voted to direct staff while in camera on January 20 and February 3, while discussing matters that were not permitted in camera. Council did not contravene the Act during an in camera discussion related to litigation or potential litigation at an August 11, 2014 committee meeting.

July 10, 2015

10 July, 2015

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

The Ombudsman found that council did not contravene the Municipal Act or its procedure by-law by laying the groundwork for future decision-making. However, he did find that the information provided by email and in person prior to this meeting came very close to the line. The only reason the councillor's attempts to lay the groundwork for an upcoming decision of council did not rise to the level of a closed meeting for the purposes of the Act is that he was unsuccessful in his attempt to discuss the matter with a quorum of council.

July 8, 2015

8 July, 2015

Township of Chamberlain

The Ombudsman was unable to confirm that closed meetings held in November and December 2013 were justified under the Municipal Act, due to the lack of meeting records and available witness information. However, the Ombudsman found that council for the Township of Chamberlain did not violate the Act when it closed part of its June 3, 2014, February 3, 2015, and February 6, 2015 meetings to the public. The Ombudsman made a number of recommendations to assist council to improve its practices with respect to open meetings.

July 6, 2015

6 July, 2015

Township of McMurrich-Monteith

The Ombudsman found that the discussions held by council for McMurrich-Monteith fit within the exceptions in the Municipal Act. The Ombudsman found that the township violated section 239(4)(a) of the Act by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the topics to be considered in closed session on January 12 and February 9. The Ombudsman also found that the township violated its procedural by-law by extending a closed meeting past its 11 p.m. curfew. Further, the township is not following best practices by failing to provide enough information in its agendas about matters to be discussed in closed session, and by failing to ensure that its agendas and resolutions correctly cite the Act.

June 24, 2015

24 June, 2015

Municipality of Magnetawan

The Ombudsman found that council for the Municipality of Magnetawan contravened the Act and its own procedure by-law by failing to provide advance notice of the February 28 meeting. Due to the lack of notice, the public was unable to attend the meeting, such that the meeting was effectively closed. The discussions that took place did not fit within any exceptions in the Act. The Ombudsman found that the discussions held in closed session on March 4 fit within the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual.

June 12, 2015

12 June, 2015

City of London

We received a complaint that London's Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee illegally closed a meeting to discuss proposals from developers hoping to purchase and redevelop land owned by the City. The Ombudsman found that the discussions fit within the exceptions for acquisition or disposition of land and solicitor-client privilege.

June 5, 2015

5 June, 2015

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

The Ombudsman found that discussions held in person and over email by councillors-elect for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands prior to their swearing in did not constitute illegal meetings under the Act because there was technically no quorum of council involved.

April 27, 2015

27 April, 2015

Town of Cochrane

The Ombudsman found that council for the Town of Cochrane did not violate the Municipal Act when it closed part of its January 27, 2015 meeting under the "advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege" exception.

April 24, 2015

24 April, 2015

City of Elliot Lake

The Ombudsman found that council for the City of Elliot Lake did not contravene the Municipal Act when it proceeded in camera at meetings held on December 1 and December 15, 2014, and January 5 and February 9, 2015. However, council did contravene the Act when it considered a matter in camera at its December 22, 2014 meeting that did not fit within the "personal matters" exception to the open meeting requirements.

April 22, 2015

22 April, 2015

City of Hamilton

The Ombudsman found that the City of Hamilton did not contravene the Municipal Act when it closed a meeting to the public on December 10, 2014, under the "acquisition or disposition of land" and "a matter under another act" exceptions.

April 16, 2015

16 April, 2015

Village of Casselman “Restaurant Roundtable”

The Ombudsman found that council for the Village of Casselman violated the open meeting requirements at a lunchtime gathering with developers on January 8, 2015.

April 13, 2015

13 April, 2015

Town of Amherstburg

The Ombudsman found that council for the Town of Amherstburg violated the Municipal Act when it discussed bank signing authorities in closed session under the "personal matters" exception on December 10, 2014.

April 13, 2015

13 April, 2015

Town of Fort Erie

The Ombudsman found that the Town of Fort Erie did not contravene the Municipal Act when it held a closed meeting on December 10 for the purpose of "education or training". However, the "acquisition or disposition of land" exception, which also was cited, did not apply to the discussions held on December 10.

April 6, 2015

6 April, 2015

Municipality of Central Huron

The Ombudsman found that council for the Municipality of Central Huron did not contravene the Municipal Act when it closed a portion of its January 12, 2015, meeting under the "personal matters" exception. However, the Ombudsman found that council violated its procedure by-law when it failed to audio or video record the closed session.

March 18, 2015

18 March, 2015

Town of Bracebridge

The Ombudsman found that council for the Town of Bracebridge did not contravene the Municipal Act when it closed portions of the December 9 and December 17 meetings under the "personal matters" exception.

March 5, 2015

5 March, 2015

City of Niagara Falls

The Ombudsman found that Council for the City of Niagara Falls held an illegal meeting on October 8, 2013. The matter discussed did not fit within any permissible exceptions to the open meeting requirements, and no public notice of the closed session was provided.

March 5, 2015

5 March, 2015

City of Niagara Falls - "Park Protest"

The Ombudsman found that the in camera discussion held by council for the City of Niagara Falls on May 29, 2012 with respect to Marineland fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception to the open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman also found that informal "operational" meetings in 2011, 2012 and 2013 did not constitute meetings for the purposes of the open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman made recommendations to improve the City of Niagara Falls’ procedure by-law.

March 3, 2015

3 March, 2015

Village of Casselman

The Ombudsman found that a dinner on November 11, 2014, attended by the newly elected council did not violate the open meeting requirements. However, the Ombudsman found that the signing of a letter on November 6, 2014, by a quorum of council in office at the time was an exercise of council authority in a sequential or serial manner, in violation of the open meeting requirements.

March 2, 2015

2 March, 2015

Municipality of South Huron

The Ombudsman found that council for the Municipality of South Huron did not contravene the Municipal Act during seven meetings held between November 2008 and December 2013.

February 13, 2015

13 February, 2015

Village of Westport

The Ombudsman found that council for the Village of Westport contravened its procedure by-law by failing to provide adequate notice of the October 28, 2014 council meeting.

January 23, 2015

23 January, 2015

City of Thorold

The Ombudsman found that council for the City of Thorold did not contravene the Municipal Act during individual discussions held between November 3 and November 28, 2014.

January 12, 2015

12 January, 2015

Town of Cochrane

The Ombudsman found that discussions held by council for the Town of Cochrane at its February 12, 2013 meeting fit within the personal matters exception to the open meeting requirements.

January 9, 2015

9 January, 2015

Township of Black River-Matheson

The Ombudsman found that the September 2, 2014 meeting of the Committee of the Whole of the Township of Black River-Matheson violated the open meeting requirements, because public notice of the changed location of the meeting was not provided.

January 9, 2015

9 January, 2015

City of Clarence-Rockland

The Ombudsman found that the August 27, 2014 meeting of council for the City of Clarence-Rockland was improperly closed to the public when council moved to a small conference room that could only accommodate council and select members of the media. The Ombudsman further found that the September 15, 2014, meeting was an open meeting of council and did not violate the requirements of the Municipal Act.