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Summaries List

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City of Niagara Falls (Downtown Business Improvement Area)

July 14, 202214 July 2022

The Ombudsman received a complaint that the Governance Committee for the Niagara Falls Downtown Business Improvement Area lacked quorum when it met on January 12, 2022. The Ombudsman determined that there was a quorum of the Committee present during the meeting.

City of Niagara Falls

May 05, 202205 May 2022

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that meetings of the Board of Directors of the Niagara Falls Hydro Holding Corporation are improperly closed to the public in contravention of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman determined that the corporation is  not subject to the open meeting rules found in the Municipal Act, 2001 because 1) the corporation is not a local board as it was incorporated under a section of the Electricity Act, 1998 which deems it not to be a local board and 2) the corporation is not a committee of council as it does not function as a committee. That is, it does not exercise delegated authority from council and it does not play an advisory role to council.

City of Kawartha Lakes

April 13, 202213 April 2022

The Ombudsman received a complaint about working group meetings held by the Off Road Vehicle Task Force of the City of Kawartha Lakes on February 19 and March 4, 2021. The complainant alleged that the meetings were closed to the public in contravention of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that because the Task Force was designated as a committee of council under the municipality’s procedure by-law and was mandated to provide advice and recommendations to council, the Task Force was obligated to comply with the open meeting rules. In closing these meetings to the public, it violated the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001.

Township of Nairn and Hyman

December 29, 202129 December 2021

The Ombudsman reviewed meetings held by the Investigation Committee in the Township of Nairn and Hyman. The Ombudsman found that the municipality contravened the open meeting rules when it did not provide public notice of Investigation Committee meetings and when council did not state by resolution the general nature of the matters to be discussed in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that the Township ensure it provides public notice for all committee meetings, and that resolutions to proceed in camera provide a general description of the issues to be discussed.

Township of Lucan Biddulph

October 18, 202118 October 2021

The Ombudsman reviewed meetings held by the Baconfest Committee for the Township of Lucan Biddulph. The Ombudsman found that the Baconfest Committee is a committee of council subject to the open meeting rules, since it was formally established as one in the Township’s appointments by-law. The municipality failed to post notice of, or record meeting minutes for, its Baconfest Committee meetings. The Ombudsman recommended that the Township formally establish all committees by by-law, and ensure that all meetings are conducted in accordance with the open meeting rules.

Township of Lucan Biddulph

October 18, 202118 October 2021

The Ombudsman reviewed meetings held by two working groups for the Township of Lucan Biddulph. Both working groups were informal and lacked operating polices or procedures. The Ombudsman acknowledged and applauded the Township’s choice, made prior to our investigation, to dissolve these groups and replace them with a formal committee. The Ombudsman recommended that the Township formally establish all committees by by-law, and ensure that all meetings are conducted in accordance with the open meeting rules.

Township of Lanark Highlands

September 03, 202103 September 2021

The Ombudsman found that the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) for the ConnectWell Community Health Centre is not a committee of council. The JPC has neither been deemed to be a committee of council by by-law, nor are at least 50% of its members a member of one or more councils or local boards. The committee also does not function as a committee of council, as it does not exercise any authority delegated by council and does not serve in an advisory function to council.

Township of Southgate

December 01, 202001 December 2020

The Ombudsman reviewed complaints about a meeting held by the Township of Southgate Fire Department Advisory and Support Committee. The township’s procedure by-law provided for the adjournment of any meeting where quorum was not achieved within 30 minutes of the scheduled start time. The committee achieved quorum more than 30 minutes after the scheduled start time, and proceeded to discuss fire services in a manner that materially advanced the business of the municipality. The Ombudsman found that while the township contravened its procedure by-law, the meeting was not illegally closed to the public. The Ombudsman recommended that the township ensure all meetings are conducted in accordance with the open meeting rules and its procedure by-law.  

City of Hamilton

May 17, 201817 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed meetings held by the Waste Management Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton. The committee is a committee of council subject to the open meeting rules, as at least 50% of its members are members of council. The municipality failed to post notice of two meetings of the committee in contravention of the Act. While the municipality posted a regular meeting time for the committee on its website, it did not indicate a location. The two meetings in question also took place at a time different from that posted. The Ombudsman recommended the municipality ensure it always provide notice before meetings of the committee, and that the municipality amend its procedure by-law to provide for notice of advisory committee meetings.

Town of Kirkland Lake

November 21, 201721 November 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed several meetings of the Recreation Committee for the Town of Kirkland Lake which occurred without public notice. The Ombudsman determined that the committee was a committee of council, and therefore subject to the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the committee failed to provide public notice of its meetings, and therefore, the meetings were not open to the public.

Town of Deep River

October 03, 201703 October 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Deep River to discuss a police services consultation plan. During the meeting, council formed a police services consultation working group composed of three members of council. The Ombudsman found that the working group was not a committee under the municipality’s procedure by-law. In determining whether the working group was a committee under the Municipal Act, 2001, the Ombudsman considered the role and function of the group. When groups primarily exchange information or advance positions that a municipality has already decided upon without laying the groundwork for decision-making by council, the body will not constitute a committee. In this case, the Ombudsman found that the working group exercised an administrative function. Therefore, the working group was not a committee under the Municipal Act.

City of London

March 01, 201701 March 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Corporate Services Committee for the City of London to discuss the hiring policy for senior staff, relying on the solicitor-client privilege exception. The municipality informed the Ombudsman that municipal solicitors were present during the closed session and provided legal advice, and that nothing else was addressed. The Ombudsman noted that some municipalities choose to waive solicitor-client privilege and provide privileged information during an investigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

City of Brockville

July 19, 201619 July 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the OPP Contact Adhoc Committee for the City of Brockville. Following its closed session discussion, the committee did not report back in open session about the in camera discussion. The Ombudsman found that committee members were unfamiliar with the practice of reporting back. The Ombudsman recommended that as a best practice, the committee should report back after closed sessions and provide general information about what occurred in camera.

City of Brockville

July 19, 201619 July 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the OPP Contact Adhoc Committee for the City of Brockville. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s resolution to proceed in camera only referenced the exception relied upon to close the meeting to the public, and did not provide the public with additional information about what the committee intended to discuss once in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that the committee pass resolutions that clearly set out that it is moving into closed session, and the general nature of the matters to be discussed.

Norfolk County

May 10, 201610 May 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the council-in-committee for Norfolk County to discuss the extension of a legal services contract. The resolution to proceed in camera referred to a  “contractual matter” along with a list of other items to be discussed and the exceptions relied upon. The Ombudsman found that while the description of the discussion did provide the public with some idea about the committee’s intended discussion, the resolution could have included additional information without undermining the confidentiality of the matter. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that resolutions to proceed in camera clearly specify which exception is being relied upon to discuss each matter.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Public Works Committee of the Township of Bonfield. The Ombudsman found that the resolutions to enter closed session only included the exceptions that the committee relied upon to go in camera -- a practice which did not comply with the Act or the town’s procedure by-law. The Ombudsman recommended that the committee’s resolutions to move in camera provide greater information to the public on the general nature of the matter to be discussed.

Township of West Lincoln

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Administration/Finance/Fire Committee for the Township of West Lincoln. The Ombudsman found that the resolution to proceed in camera only referenced the exceptions relied upon to close the meeting to the public but did not provide further information about the subject of the discussions. The Ombudsman also found that there was an opportunity to add more information about the in camera discussion to the resolution based on a resolution passed in open session that was related to the in camera discussion.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Public Works Committee of the Township of Bonfield. The committee did not report back following its closed sessions and told our Office that it generally did not observe the practice of reporting back. The Ombudsman noted that the committee’s current practice of not reporting back failed to provide the public with a general idea of the in camera discussion or any information about directions to staff made in closed session.

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield. The Ombudsman noted that the committee’s open session minutes only recorded the resolutions passed by the committee. The Ombudsman also found that the committee excluded the clerk during the closed session minutes and did not take any formal minutes for that portion of the meeting. The Ombudsman found that the municipality’s practices led to little substantive content of the committee’s discussion being recorded. The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality ensure that both open and closed session minutes are kept of all meetings of council, local boards, and committees. The Ombudsman also recommended that meeting records be complete and accurately reflect all of the substantive and procedural items that were discussed, and that meetings be audio and/or video recorded. Finally, the Ombudsman recommended that if the committee’s clerk delegates minute-taking responsibilities, and if the clerk is not attending the meeting, the delegation should be made formally in writing.

Town of Larder Lake

April 16, 201316 April 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by the Planning Committee for the Town of Larder Lake. The Ombudsman recommended that the town amend its procedure by-law to address the open meeting practices of committees and to require public notice of all meetings.