bargaining position

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Town of Pelham

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 acquisition or disposition of land did not apply since council’s discussion about potential development was speculative and the Town did not have a bargaining position to protect. The Ombudsman found that council contravened the Municipal Act, 2001 when it met in closed session on April 19, 2021.

Bruce County

May 20, 202220 May 2022

Bruce County’s Executive Committee cited the exception for acquisition or disposition of land when it proceeded in camera on September 6, 2018. The Ombudsman found that the Committee’s discussion regarding the development of a County hub did not fit within the exception, as the County owned the land in question and was not seeking to sell it. Even if the Committee had discussed this option, the discussion would have been purely speculative and the County did not have a bargaining position to protect. The Executive Committee’s discussion about acquiring land for another project was also speculative and the County did not have a bargaining position to protect at the time. Accordingly, the exception for acquisition or disposition of land did not apply. 

The Ombudsman also considered the applicability of the exception for acquisition or disposition of land to the Committee’s in camera discussion at a meeting on January 10, 2019. While the closed meeting minutes identify various possible locations for the Nuclear Innovation Institute, the Ombudsman found that no land transaction was pending or had been proposed, and no practical steps had been taken to acquire a property or begin negotiations. Accordingly, the County did not yet have a bargaining position to protect and the exception for acquisition or disposition of land did not apply.

Town of Fort Erie

October 20, 202120 October 2021

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Town of Fort Erie contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on July 26, 2021 when it met in closed session to discuss the disposition of a fire station. The complaint alleged that council’s discussion did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for acquisition or disposition of land. This exception covers discussions relating to an actual land transaction that is either pending or proposed. The purpose of the exception is to ensure that the municipality’s bargaining position is protected with respect to a specific property. Our review revealed that, had the discussion on July 26, 2021 been made public, it would have adversely affected the municipality’s bargaining position in negotiations related to the land sale.

Norfolk County

March 17, 202117 March 2021
The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Norfolk County to discuss raising capital by selling municipal land under the “acquisition or disposition of land” exception. Although there was no pending land transaction, during the discussion disposition of specific lands was proposed and a target price per acre was set. The Ombudsman found that the municipality had a bargaining position to protect and the discussion fit within the “acquisition or disposition of land” exception.
 

City of Port Colborne

November 19, 201519 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Port Colborne to discuss disposing of its shares in a shared services provider. The meeting was closed under the security of the property exception. Council cited the exception because the municipality’s bargaining position might have been affected if details of the discussion were made public. The security of the property exception is narrowly construed. The Ombudsman found that the fact that any discussion in open session may have decreased the value of the shares was insufficient to bring the matter within the security of the property exception.

City of London

June 12, 201512 June 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the City of London’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee that relied on the acquisition or disposition of land exception to discuss development proposals for a decommissioned hospital site owned by the municipality. The committee considered legal advice and heard from staff about expressions of interest from members of the public interested in purchasing the land. The Ombudsman found that, if made public, the committee’s discussion about the expressions of interest might have affected the municipality’s bargaining position in negotiations related to the land sale. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Fort Erie

April 13, 201513 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to hear a presentation of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the meeting, council may have briefly discussed a purely speculative disposition of land. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception because the discussion was purely speculative and did not involve an imminent purchase or sale of land. Accordingly, there was no bargaining position to protect.

Township of Russell

August 08, 201408 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell to discuss financial interests, municipal growth, future planning, and negotiation strategy. The meeting was closed under the security of the property exception. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussions did not come within section 239(2)(a) of the Municipal Act, 2001 as the discussion did not relate to preventing the loss or damage of municipal property or to the protection of public safety relating to municipal property.