This includes discussions about information that:
• Falls into one of the listed types: trade secret, scientific, technical, commercial, financial, or labour relations information;
• Was supplied confidentially, whether explicitly or implicitly, to the municipality by a third party; and
• If disclosed, could reasonably be expected to cause harm, either by prejudicing significantly the competitive position or interfering significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons or organization
This does not include discussions:
• Where the information did not come from a third party
• Where there is only a merely possible or speculative risk of harm if the information were to be disclosed
This exception was introduced on January 1, 2018, through changes to the Municipal Act, 2001.
June 15, 202215 June 2022
The Ombudsman investigated a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Pelham on April 19, 2021, during which council discussed future management and potential development of the local airport. The Ombudsman concluded that the exception for information supplied in confidence by a third party did not apply to council’s discussion since there was no evidence that information disclosed during the meeting could have been expected to cause significant harm to a third party. The Ombudsman found that council contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 when it met in closed session on April 19, 2021.
May 20, 202220 May 2022
The Ombudsman considered the applicability of the exception for information supplied in confidence by a third party to Bruce County Executive Committee’s in camera discussion on January 10, 2019. The Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within this exception to the open meeting rules because none of the information discussed fell into the categories listed in s. 239(2)(i) of the Municipal Act, 2001 such as financial or commercial information.
April 05, 202205 April 2022
The Ombudsman reviewed a complaint that council for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 when it went in camera on August 11, 2020. Council’s in camera discussion pertained to a study report and a funding application, both related to an internet broadband project.
The Ombudsman found that the study report was not information belonging to a third party under s. 239(2)(i). The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about the study report was nonetheless permissible under the exception at s. 239(2)(j), information belonging to the municipality. However, council contravened the Act by discussing the funding application in closed session and by holding a vote by consensus on this matter. Furthermore, prior to moving in camera, council failed to state in its resolution the general nature of the matter to be considered as required by s. 239(4).
October 14, 202114 October 2021
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula improperly met in closed session to receive a delegation on March 16, 2021, contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman’s review determined that council received and discussed detailed information from a third party company regarding that company’s development plans, expected profits, and intended use of proprietary technology. We were told that the third party specifically wished to discuss this commercial information in private because it did not want to prejudice a pending land transaction or alert competitors to the proprietary technology it intended to rely on to create a profitable business in a specific area. The Ombudsman found this closed session discussion was permissible under section 239(2)(i) of the Municipal Act as council discussed information supplied in confidence by a third party that, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to significantly prejudice the competitive position of the business and significantly interfere with an ongoing land transaction.
May 12, 202112 May 2021
The Ombudsman reviewed a closed session meeting held by the City of Greater Sudbury where council discussed a project proposed by a third party. Council received confidential commercial and financial information belonging to third parties. As the proposed project remained ongoing, this information could have prejudiced the parties’ competitive position and negotiations if it were disclosed. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that this topic fit within the exception.
October 03, 201903 October 2019
The Ombudsman reviewed the in camera session of the meeting of the Committee of the Whole for the Municipality of St.-Charles, in which documents and recommendations about the municipality’s finances were discussed. The council discussed a document containing a watermark indicating that it was “supplied in confidence” to the municipality by a consultant. The Ombudsman found the document summarized and analyzed information about the municipality, and was marked “in confidence” because it was created by a third party and given to the municipality. Section 239(2)(i) is intended to protect confidential information about a third party. Therefore, the discussion of this report marked “in confidence” did not fit within the information supplied in confidence exception.