2018

December 6, 2018

6 December, 2018

Township of Tehkummah

The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding four meetings held by council for the Township of Tehkummah in June 2018. The complainant told my Office that the exterior doors to the municipal administration were locked during two council meetings and that insufficient public notice was provided for two more council meetings. During our review, we identified several best practices to enhance the accountability and transparency of the Township’s council meetings.

November 22, 2018

22 November, 2018

Town of Carleton Place

The Ombudsman received a complaint about the June 12, 2018 closed meeting of the Policy Review Committee for the Town of Carleton Place. The complaint alleged that the committee’s discussion about the sale of two municipally-owned properties and a related discussion regarding water and sewer services did not fit within the “acquisition or disposition of land” exception in the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the closed session fit within the exception.

October 31, 2018

31 October, 2018

Municipality of Callander

The Ombudsman received a complaint that one regular meeting of council, four special meetings of council and two committee of the whole meetings were held without posting notice online, as required by the procedure bylaw. The municipality provided information to the Ombudsman confirming that notice for four of the meetings was posted online in accordance with the bylaw. The municipality could not confirm whether notice was given/ the agenda posted for the February 20, 2018 committee of the whole meeting. The procedure by-law requires at least 48 hours notice of special meetings be given to members of council, and that the notice shall be posted online and at the municipal office immediately afterwards. The notice for February 27, 2018 special meeting was posted online less than 36 hours before the meeting. The Ombudsman encouraged the municipality to ensure that it meets its obligations under the procedure by-law in future.

October 2, 2018

2 October, 2018

City of Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area

The Ombudsman received a complaint about the August 8, 2018 closed meeting of the board of directors for the Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area. The complaint alleged that the board’s discussion about its response to an open letter did not fit within the “personal matters” closed meeting exception in the Municipal Act, 2001. The complaint also alleged that the DIA provided insufficient notice of four meetings that occurred in the summer of 2018. The Ombudsman found that the closed session discussion did not fit within the exceptions for closed meetings set out in the Municipal Act. He also found that the DIA complied with the notice requirements in its procedure by-law, although until recently, its website provided inaccurate information about the board’s meeting schedule.

August 21, 2018

21 August, 2018

Village of Casselman

The Ombudsman investigated a complaint about two information sessions on March 7, 2018 attended by a quorum of council for the Village of Casselman. During these sessions, the council members in attendance received information and updates with respect to the business of the municipality. However, his investigation did not uncover evidence that the council members in attendance at the sessions “materially advanced” the business or decision-making of council. These sessions were therefore not “meetings” under the definition in the Municipal Act, 2001 that came into force on January 1, 2018. In the interests of openness and transparency, the Ombudsman suggested that council members receive information and updates about the business of the municipality during public meetings of council.

August 15, 2018

15 August, 2018

Town of Deep River

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Town of Deep River held a vote in closed session on May 16, 2018 that did not comply with the open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that council voted during the closed session to direct staff which is permitted by the Municipal Act.

July 3, 2018

3 July, 2018

Village of Casselman

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting of council for the Village of Casselman on January 9, 2018 and about discussions that took place among council members at town hall on January 11, 2018. The Ombudsman found that council for the Village did not violate the open meeting rules when it went into closed session to discuss human resources matters on January 9, 2018 and when a quorum of councillors had informal discussions at town hall on January 11, 2018. However, the Ombudsman made best practice suggestions relating to the Town’s closed meeting procedures.

June 29, 2018

29 June, 2018

Township of The North Shore

The Ombudsman received complaints about three meetings of council for The North Shore, alleging that subjects discussed in the December 13, 2017 and February 7, 2018 closed sessions did not fit within the “personal matters” exception, and that the resolution on December 13, 2017, to proceed into closed session did not include all matters discussed. The complaint also alleged the township did not give notice of a special meeting held on February 14, 2018. The Ombudsman found that the subject matters discussed by council on December 13, 2017, fit within the exceptions in the Municipal Act, but that the township  failed to include all subject matters discussed during the closed session in the resolution to proceed into closed session. He also found that council violated the Municipal Act during the closed session on February 7, 2018, when it discussed how to fill a council vacancy. The Ombudsman found that the township did provide public notice of its February 14, 2018 meeting, but recommended that the township amend its procedure bylaw to formalize its general practices for giving notice.

June 29, 2018

29 June, 2018

Town of Amherstburg

The Ombudsman received three complaints that several closed meetings held by council for the Town of Amherstburg and the Joint Police Advisory Committee did not comply with the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act. The Joint Police Advisory Committee does not fall under the definition of “committee” under the Municipal Act, so the Ombudsman used his general jurisdiction over municipalities to consider whether the committee violated its terms of reference. The Ombudsman found the committee failed to comply with its terms of reference in closing several meetings using the security of the property exception. The Ombudsman found council violated the Municipal Act in closing a meeting under the security of the property exception but did not violate the Act by closing another meeting under the personal matters exception. 

June 29, 2018

29 June, 2018

Township of Front of Yonge

The Ombudsman received a complaint that an informal meeting of council occurred after the April 16, 2018 meeting of council. The complainant alleged that three members of council remained after the meeting finished and discussed purchasing recycling bins for the Township. The Ombudsman found that an informal meeting did not occur and identified best practice suggestions to improve the Township’s record keeping practices.

June 7, 2018

7 June, 2018

Township of Russell

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a meeting of council held on May 22, 2018. The complainant alleged that the resolution to proceed into closed session was not sufficiently detailed, and that the subject of the meeting was not appropriate for closed session. In a letter to the township, the Ombudsman noted that the resolution referenced the general subject matter to be discussed, and that the closed meeting fit within the exceptions set out in the Municipal Act.
 

May 31, 2018

31 May, 2018

Township of Tehkummah

My Office received a complaint about a special meeting of council for the Township of Tehkummah held on May 15, 2018. The complainant told my Office that the public was not provided with notice of the meeting. Township staff confirmed that notice was inadvertently not posted ahead of the meeting. The Ombudsman reminded the township of its obligations under the Municipal Act.

May 28, 2018

28 May, 2018

Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula inappropriately met in closed session on January 22, 2018 to discuss notice of an application for absolute title under the Land Titles Act for a property located within the municipality. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that matters discussed during the closed meeting did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules. 

May 25, 2018

25 May, 2018

Township of Russell

The Ombudsman received a complaint that a non-council member motioned to move into closed session during the Township of Russell’s special meeting on April 19, 2018. He also received a complaint that the motion did not provide sufficient information about council’s intended discussion. In a letter to the municipality, the Ombudsman noted that the Municipal Act, 2001 provides that the powers of a municipality shall be exercised by council and reminded the Township that resolutions to proceed in camera should provide a general description of the issue to be discussed. The Ombudsman did not make any recommendations.

May 22, 2018

22 May, 2018

Town of Petrolia

We received complaints that the Town of Petrolia held meetings that did not comply with the open meeting rules when it discussed a proposal by the YMCA in camera on September 11 and October 25, 2017, and when it discussed an individual in closed session on November 14, 2017. The Ombudsman found that a presentation given by the YMCA to council on September 11, 2017 did not fit in any of the exceptions to the Act. He found that a discussion that followed the presentation fit in the exception for labour relations or employee negotiations. The Ombudsman found that the discussion on October 25, 2017 also fit within the exception for labour relations, and that the discussion on November 14, 2017 fit within the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual.

May 17, 2018

17 May, 2018

City of Hamilton

The City of Hamilton’s Waste Management Advisory Committee is a committee of council subject to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman found that the committee contravened the Municipal Act on September 27, 2017 and January 31, 2018, when it held meetings without providing notice to the public.

May 9, 2018

9 May, 2018

Town of Deep River

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Town of Deep River inappropriately met in closed session on March 21, 2018, to discuss a development proposal and various fire service issues. The Ombudsman found that council did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 because these discussions fit with the Act’s closed meeting exceptions. No recommendations were made.

April 19, 2018

19 April, 2018

Town of Pelham

We received complaints that a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Pelham on September 5, 2017 about town finances did not comply with the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001. We also received a complaint alleging that following the September 5, 2017 council meeting, members of council held a gathering at a local establishment that constituted an illegal meeting. The Ombudsman found that the matters discussed in camera on September 5 fit within the exceptions for labour relations and solicitor-client privilege. He also found that the informal gathering was not a meeting subject to the open meeting rules, as council members did not discuss council business.

April 18, 2018

18 April, 2018

Township of Tehkummah

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Township of Tehkummah did not provide proper notice to the public for a special closed council meeting held on December 22, 2017. The Ombudsman found that the township’s discussion fit within the cited “personal matters” exception, as well as the “labor relations” exception.  However, the Ombudsman found that the township contravened the Act and the township’s procedure by-law by failing to provide proper public notice. The Ombudsman also found a number of issues with council’s procedures, and identified best practices and procedural steps to improve the township's meeting practices. 

April 18, 2018

18 April, 2018

Town of Fort Erie

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Town of Fort Erie inappropriately met in camera on December 4, and December 6, 2017 under the “acquisition or disposition of land” exception to the Municipal Act’s open meeting rules. The December 4 and December 6 special closed meetings were to discuss a potential partnership with a post-secondary institution. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussions did not fit within the Act’s “acquisition or disposition of land” exception because council was in the early stages of deciding whether to proceed with the partnership, had not turned its mind to a specific property to purchase or lease, and was not acting with a view to protecting its bargaining position in property negotiations.

January 9, 2018

9 January, 2018

Township of North Huron

The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Township of North Huron inappropriately met in closed session on December 11, 2017, to discuss fire personnel issues. The Ombudsman found that council did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 because the discussion fit with the “personal matters about an identifiable individual” and the “labour relations or employee negotiations” closed meeting exceptions. No recommendations were made.
 

January 4, 2018

4 January, 2018

Township of Lanark Highlands

We received a complaint that council for the Township of Lanark Highlands inappropriately met in camera on July 17, 2017 under the “advice subject to solicitor client privilege” and “personal matters” exceptions to the open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that council discussed a number of items while in camera that were not included in the closed meeting agenda. Two of the topics of discussion, financial software and council’s interaction and communication structure with staff, did not fit within the closed meeting exceptions.