2016

December 29, 2016

29 December, 2016

Niagara District Airport Commission

The Niagara District Airport Commission contravened the Municipal Act on July 14, 2016, when it went in camera to discuss ongoing airport fee negotiations and related airport upgrades. This meeting did not fall within the “advice subject to solicitor-client privilege” exception, or any exception, to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman also made recommendations to improve the commission’s procedure by-law and its process for providing information to the public about closed session discussions.

December 22, 2016

22 December, 2016

City of Elliot Lake

The City of Elliot Lake's Ad Hoc Multi-Use Committee is a committee of council subject to the Municipal Act's open meeting requirements. The committee violated the open meeting requirements and the city's procedural by-law on March 22, 2016 and May 5, 2016 when it held meetings without providing notice to the public. 

December 13, 2016

13 December, 2016

Township of Hornepayne

The Township of Hornepayne’s Nuclear Waste Community Liaison Committee is a committee of council subject to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements. The committee contravened the Act and the township’s procedure by-law on January 12, 2016, when it held a meeting without providing any notice to the public.

November 14, 2016

14 November, 2016

Town of Grimsby

Council for the Town of Grimsby contravened the Municipal Act and the municipality’s procedure by-law when it discussed a municipally-controlled corporation, Niagara Power Inc., in camera on May 2, 2016. The discussion did not fit within any of the exceptions to the open meeting rules. There is no exception in the Act for discussions about sensitive business information.

November 7, 2016

7 November, 2016

County of Norfolk

The Ombudsman received complaints that council for the County of Norfolk met illegally in a closed meeting on May 24, 2016 to discuss the development of a site-specific zoning by-law for an area in the county known as Hastings Drive. The complaints also alleged that council improperly voted during the closed meeting to remove an option for the zoning by-law from consideration. The Ombudsman determined that council did not contravene the Municipal Act when it went in camera on May 24, 2016 under the litigation or potential litigation exception and the solicitor-client privilege exception. The Ombudsman also found that council did not improperly vote during the closed meeting. One of the complaints alleged that the resolution to proceed in camera was vague. Given the nature of the discussions (solicitor-client privileged advice), the Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera was sufficient.

November 3, 2016

3 November, 2016

City of Niagara Falls

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the City of Niagara Falls violated the Municipal Act when it voted in closed session to commit $10 million towards a proposed partnership with a post-secondary institution. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within any of the closed meeting exceptions and that as a result, council was not entitled to vote in closed session on a resolution directing staff to proceed with the partnership.

September 27, 2016

27 September, 2016

Municipality of West Nipissing

We received a complaint that the Municipality of West Nipissing failed to provide sufficient notice to the public in advance of a July 21, 2016 special council meeting. The municipality’s procedure by-law failed to set a public notice requirement for special meetings. West Nipissing has now amended its procedure by-law to provide for public notice of all meetings.

September 14, 2016

14 September, 2016

Town of Goderich

The Ombudsman received a complaint that the Recreation Board of Management and Board’s Ad Hoc Committee in the Town of Goderich held meetings in 2015 and 2016 that did not comply with the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act. The Ombudsman found that the Recreation Board of Management falls within the Municipal Act’s definition of a “local board” and is subject to the Act’s open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman cautioned the Board to be vigilant in adhering to the requirements of the Municipal Act in the future when it forms committees. The Ombudsman noted that, the Board and the Ad Hoc Committee include volunteer members who acted in good faith for the benefit of the community. A number of recommendations were made to assist the Board in improving its open meeting practices.

September 8, 2016

8 September, 2016

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands had discussed a zoning by-law application over email. The Ombudsman determined that council violated the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act by discussing council business over email and recommended that council cease its practice of discussing council business using quorum emails or any other electronic format.

September 8, 2016

8 September, 2016

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands discussed reassignment of the Chief Administrative Officer’s duties during a closed meeting held on April 18, 2016. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual, but cautioned that council’s resolution to proceed in camera should provide more information about the subjects to be discussed in closed session.

August 11, 2016

11 August, 2016

Township of Woolwich

The Ombudsman received a complaint that committee of the whole for the Township of Woolwich held an improper closed meeting between the closed and open sessions on March 22, 2016 at which they made a decision on an upcoming delegation. The Ombudsman found no evidence that a quorum of the committee discussed the delegation as a group behind closed doors, or laid the groundwork for a decision on the delegation.

August 5, 2016

5 August, 2016

Municipality of Brockton (Walkerton BIA)

The Ombudsman received a complaint that on June 8, 2016, the board of directors for the Walkerton Business Improvement Area discussed matters that did not fall within the exceptions in the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for litigation or potential litigation.

August 2, 2016

2 August, 2016

City of Sault Ste. Marie

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the City of Sault Ste. Marie discussed matters that did not fall within the exceptions in the Municipal Act, 2001 during a closed meeting on October 13, 2015. During the meeting, council received a presentation by the City’s Fire Chief. The Ombudsman determined that the meeting fit within the exception for labour relations or employee negotiations.

July 19, 2016

19 July, 2016

City of Brockville

Our Office received two complaints about the March 7, 2016 meeting held by the OPP Contact Adhoc Committee for the City of Brockville. Both complaints alleged that the committee’s meeting with representatives of the Ontario Provincial Police did not come within the Municipal Act's closed meeting exception for “education and training” sessions. The Ombudsman determined that the committee did not contravene the Act when it went in camera to acquire education and training about the OPP costing process. However, in addition to receiving this general information from the OPP, the committee decided to advance the costing process by voting to direct staff to approach an audit firm to assess the OPP costing proposal once the city receives it. This discussion and direction to staff advanced the committee’s business and decision-making and did not fall within the “education and training” exception, or any exception, to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman also identified various procedural issues with the committee's practices.

July 19, 2016

19 July, 2016

City of Hamilton

The Ombudsman received a complaint that the Election Compliance Audit Committee for the City of Hamilton held a “deliberation” on July 15, 2015 that was illegally closed to the public. The Ombudsman determined that the city's Election Compliance Audit Committee falls within the Municipal Act’s definition of a “local board” and is subject to the Act’s open meeting requirements. The committee contravened the Act on July 15, 2015, when it met in private to deliberate on various applications that were before the committee. 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 committee’s discussion did not fall within any of the Act’s closed meeting exceptions.

July 19, 2016

19 July, 2016

City of Oshawa

The Ombudsman received four complaints about a meeting held by council for the City of Oshawa on December 17, 2015. Each complaint alleged that council’s meeting with the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation on that date did not come within the Municipal Act’s closed meeting exception for “education and training” sessions. The Ombudsman found that council for the City of Oshawa contravened the Municipal Act on December 17, 2015, when it went in camera to obtain information about a proposed merger between OPUC and Veridian. This meeting did not fall within the “education and training” exception, or any exception, to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements. A number of recommendations were made to assist the city in improving its open meeting practices.

July 6, 2016

6 July, 2016

Town of Amherstburg

We received a complaint that council for the Town of Amherstburg discussed approval of the town’s accounts payable over email during December 2014 and January 2015. We also received complaints that council discussed items in closed meetings on October 14 and 26, 2015 that did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules.

June 10, 2016

10 June, 2016

Norfolk County

We received complaints that council for Norfolk County discussed matters that did not fall within the exceptions in the Municipal Act, 2001 during closed meetings on January 19 and February 16, 2016.

The Ombudsman found that the discussion on January 19 fit within the exceptions for solicitor-client privilege, and litigation or potential litigation. The Ombudsman found that the February 16 discussion fit within the exception for personal matters about identifiable individuals. ​

June 3, 2016

3 June, 2016

Town of Midland

The Ombudsman found that council for the Town of Midland violated the Municipal Act on September 14, 2015 when it discussed in camera matters relating to a housing development that did not fit within any exception to the open meeting rules. References during the discussion to personal matters about an individual were not the focus of the conversation and did not justify holding the discussion in camera. Council also contravened the Act when it voted on the housing matter during an illegal closed meeting.

The Ombudsman found that Midland council did not contravene the open meeting rules on October 13, 2015, as its discussions fit within the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual.
On both dates, council for Midland violated a procedural requirement in the Act by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the matters to be considered in the closed sessions.

May 19, 2016

19 May, 2016

City of Greater Sudbury

Our Office received a complaint that Greater Sudbury's council held an illegal closed meeting on April 7, 2016 when it attended a roundtable with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The roundtable was closed to the media and the public. Our review determined that a meeting for the purposes of the <i>Municipal Act</i> did not occur since there was no discussion between council members of council business or the laying of groundwork for council business. Council members directly addressed their comments regarding the community needs and opportunities to the Prime Minister.

May 10, 2016

10 May, 2016

Norfolk County

Our Office received a complaint that Norfolk County's council-in-committee held an illegal closed meeting on December 1, 2015 when it went in camera to discuss whether to approve a legal services contract extension with two law firms. Our investigation determined that the majority of the committee's discussion did not fall within any of the exceptions to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman made a number of recommendations to improve local practices in the interest of transparency and accountability.

May 6, 2016

6 May, 2016

The Nation Municipality

Our Office received a complaint that council for The Nation Municipality held an illegal closed meeting on August 31, 2015 when it restricted access to a council meeting to those who could fit inside the Town Hall, and prohibited individuals from using a microphone and speakers to broadcast the meeting proceedings outside in the parking lot.

April 19, 2016

19 April, 2016

Township of Russell

We received a complaint that council for the Township of Russell discussed items in closed session on December 7, 2015, that did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that council contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 when it discussed councillor remuneration in closed session. However, council did not contravene the Act when it went in camera to discuss changes to township employee compensation. Portions of the discussion relating to the salaries of identified municipal employees fell within the closed meeting exception for personal information about an identifiable individual. Other portions of the discussion relating to the township’s compensation strategy and proposed changes to the salary grid fell within the closed meeting exception for labour relations or employee negotiations.

February 24, 2016

24 February, 2016

City of London

We received two complaints that council for the City of London held an illegal closed meeting on June 10, 2015. Shortly after the meeting began, there was a disruption in the public gallery and members of the public were asked to leave the building. Once the security issue was resolved, the doors to City Hall remained locked to the public.

February 23, 2016

23 February, 2016

Town of Fort Erie

We received a complaint that on December 14, 2015, a locked security door prevented the public from accessing the room where council for the Town of Fort Erie was holding what they thought was an open meeting of council. The Acting Ombudsman found that the locked door effectively prevented the public from accessing the meeting room. As a result, the meeting was improperly closed to the public and the public’s right to observe municipal government in process was frustrated. A number of recommendations were made to assist the town in improving its open meeting practices. ​

February 4, 2016

4 February, 2016

Village of Casselman

Our office found that discussions of a consultant's report on July 3 and July 14, 2015 fit within the personal matters exception to the open meeting requirements. We made a number of suggestions, however, to improve the closed meeting practices of council for the Village of Casselman.

February 4, 2016

4 February, 2016

Municipality of St.-Charles

We received a complaint that council for the Municipality of St.-Charles discussed items in closed meetings on May 15, 2012, June 19, 2013, and May 29, 2014 that did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that council for St.-Charles contravened the Municipal Act when it discussed audit reports, management letters, and other auditor findings and recommendations in closed session during each of the three meetings. Discussions of individual staff performance and conduct, which ensued as a result of the review of the audit report and management letter, fell within the exceptions for personal matters and labour relations.

January 5, 2016

5 January, 2016

Township of Russell

We received complaints about two closed meetings held by council for the Township of Russell during the afternoon and evening of August 10, 2015. Our review found that council did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001​ on the afternoon of August 10 when it went in camera to receive training on strategic planning because the discussion fell within the exception for education or training sessions. We also found that one matter discussed on the evening of August 10 fell within the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual. However, our review found that three of the closed session matters discussed the evening of August 10 did not fall within any of the Act's exceptions to the open meeting requirements.