technical difficulties

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City of Hamilton

April 22, 202122 April 2021
The Ombudsman reviewed an electronic meeting held by the LGBTQ advisory committee for the City of Hamilton. The Ombudsman found that during the open portion of the meeting, the public livestream was unavailable due to technical issues. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that while the livestream was down, the public was excluded from the meeting and the meeting was illegally closed.

Village of Westport

March 12, 202112 March 2021
The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding two meetings held by council for the Village of Westport on September 15, 2020. The complaint alleged that due to a technical issue, council did not livestream the virtual committee of the whole or special council meeting for the public. The complaint alleged that, as a result, these meetings were closed to the public contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman confirmed that the public was excluded from these meetings due to technical issues and that as a result, they were improperly closed to the public.
 

Township of Lanark Highlands

February 09, 202109 February 2021
The Ombudsman received complaints about the audio quality of a teleconference meeting held on August 11, 2020, by the committee of the whole for the Township of Lanark Highlands. The complainants alleged that the audio quality of the meeting was so poor that the public could not meaningfully follow the meeting. The Ombudsman acknowledged that poor audio quality of a teleconferenced meeting may interfere with the public’s ability to access a meeting. As a best practice, the Ombudsman suggested that municipalities take steps to monitor the clarity of such teleconferences to ensure that the public can follow municipal decision-making in a meaningful way. The Ombudsman did not find any violations of the Act’s open meeting requirements.

Township of Stone Mills

December 22, 202022 December 2020
The Ombudsman received complaints regarding meetings held by the Township of Stone Mills between August 10, 2020 and October 27, 2020. Specifically, the complainants disagreed with the municipality’s decision to hold in-person council meetings without providing members of the public with a way to watch the meeting remotely, such as through video or phone conferencing technology. The Ombudsman’s review determined that council initially chose to satisfy the Act’s requirement to hold open meetings by broadcasting virtual Zoom meetings on YouTube. As of August 2020, the Township changed its approach and decided to satisfy the Act’s open meeting requirement by holding in-person council meetings in consultation with the local public health unit. The Ombudsman’s review confirmed that the municipality provided public notice of its meetings from August 10 to October 27, 2020, and that members of the public were able to attend these meetings and see municipal decision-making in progress. The Ombudsman did not find any violations of the Act’s open meeting requirements.