February 01, 202301 February 2023
The Ombudsman found that council for the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio did not contravene the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 when members of the newly elected council attended educational workshops on November 15, 24, and 29, 2022. At the time of these gatherings, four of the seven council members had not yet taken office. As such, a quorum of council was not present, and the gatherings therefore did not meet the definition of a meeting in the Act. As the gatherings were not meetings as defined in the Act, the Act’s open meeting rules did not apply.
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.
December 09, 202109 December 2021
The Ombudsman received a complaint that a quorum of council for the Town of Espanola held an illegal closed meeting on January 31, 2019 after the regular council meeting had concluded, contrary to the open meeting requirements under the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman’s review determined that although a quorum of council was present, the gathering was not a “meeting” under the Act because the discussion did not materially advance the business or decision-making of council.
March 29, 202129 March 2021
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that on June 15, 2020, a quorum of councillors for the Town of Hawkesbury discussed council business that they intended to introduce and vote on at a council meeting scheduled for the next day. The complaint alleged that this discussion amounted to a “meeting” and was improperly closed to the public contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the Mayor individually spoke with three councillors regarding employee terminations in separate discussions. The Ombudsman found that these serial discussions were not a meeting because a quorum of councillors was never present, as required by the definition of “meeting” in the Act.
June 19, 202019 June 2020
The Ombudsman reviewed a series of emails exchanged by members of council that refers to an informal interaction between members of council on a prior date. Based on the information gathered during interviews, the Ombudsman was satisfied that no informal meeting took place.
June 10, 202010 June 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that a quorum of councillors for the Town of Pelham informally met to discuss a possible donation from a cannabis producer on January 9, 2020, contrary to the open meeting rules of the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that the informal discussion did not contravene the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements as the discussion did not materially advance council business as required by the Municipal Act. However, the Ombudsman found that the Town of Pelham acted without legal authority when it took action following this informal discussion. By failing to act through resolution and confirming by-law passed at a properly constituted council meeting, the municipality tried to shield its decision-making process from public scrutiny. These actions were contrary to law and wrong under section 21(1) of the Ombudsman Act.
August 02, 201902 August 2019
The Ombudsman received a complaint about a gathering that two council members attended on April 14, 2019. Council for Lambton Shores is composed of nine council members. The new definition of "meeting" in the Municipal Act, 2001 requires that a quorum of members be physically present in order for a gathering to be subject to open meeting requirements.
May 16, 201916 May 2019
The Ombudsman received a complaint that councillors had informally discussed a matter in private prior to the council meeting on January 10, 2019, contrary to the Municipal Act. The Ombudsman did not find any evidence that council contravened the Municipal Act’s meeting provisions when the Mayor spoke with a small number of councillors-elect at two gatherings before new councillors were sworn in. However, the Ombudsman cautioned that municipalities should be careful about having councillors-elect meet privately in this manner due to concerns about openness and transparency.
February 22, 201922 February 2019
Members of council for the City of Hamilton did not contravene the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001 when they exchanged emails regarding a vacant council seat in June 2018. The new definition of “meeting” in the Act requires that a quorum be present, such that an exchange of emails cannot be considered a meeting subject to the open meeting rules. In the interest of openness and transparency, municipal councils should continue to avoid conducting business outside of a formal meeting.
August 21, 201821 August 2018
The Ombudsman reviewed two information sessions relating to the business of the municipality attended by a quorum of council for the Village of Casselman. The Ombudsman found that the council members did not materially advance the business of the municipality during these information sessions. The council members only received information about ongoing projects in the municipality. There was no discussion among the council members present and no decisions were made. Even though the Ombudsman found that these information sessions did not constitute meetings under the Municipal Act, 2001, in the interests of openness and transparency he encouraged council to receive information and updates of this nature during public meetings.
February 13, 201713 February 2017
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting of a quorum of council for the Municipality of Brockton at an information session held under the Drainage Act. The purpose of the meeting was to provide affected residents information about matters related to an ongoing drainage petition. The Ombudsman found that the Drainage Act does not contain any provisions allowing council to hold a closed meeting while attending an information session. The municipality’s compliance with the procedural requirements for the Drainage Act does not relieve it from also complying with the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001.
February 13, 201713 February 2017
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting held by members of the board of directors for the Walkerton Business Improvement Area (BIA) in the Municipality of Brockton to discuss one board member’s plans to circulate a petition. The Ombudsman found that the Walkerton BIA is subject to the open meeting rules as a local board. The Ombudsman found that a meeting did not occur for the purposes of the Municipal Act, 2001 because an insufficient number of members met to constitute a quorum.
January 17, 201117 January 2011
The Ombudsman found that two informal gatherings of newly elected councillors for the Town of Kearney did not violate the Municipal Act, 2001, as the councillors had not yet been sworn in and there was therefore no quorum of the current council present. However, these gatherings involved discussions of future council business and were therefore inconsistent with the principles of transparency and openness underlying the open meeting requirements.