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December 22, 2020
22 December 2020
The Ombudsman received complaints regarding meetings held by the Township of Stone Mills between August 10, 2020 and October 27, 2020.
December 1, 2020
1 December 2020
The Ombudsman found that the Township of Southgate Fire Department Advisory and Support Committee held a meeting on October 22, 2019 that was not illegally closed to the public. However, the Ombudsman found that by proceeding to discuss fire services more than 30 minutes after the scheduled start time of the meeting, the township contravened its procedure by-law.
November 5, 2020
5 November 2020
October 13, 2020
13 October 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of Emo contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on June 23, 2020. The complaint alleged that council’s discussion relating to a “Council Code of Conduct” matter did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that council’s discussion was permissible under the Municipal Act’s closed meeting exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual in s. 239(2)(b). However, the Ombudsman found that the Township contravened the requirements of section 239(4)(a) of the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the matters to be considered in camera.
September 25, 2020
25 September 2020
We received a complaint that council for the Township of Sables-Spanish Rivers discussed matters in a closed meeting on September 25, 2019 that did not fit into the exceptions in the Municipal Act. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussions about a bidder on a request for proposals, and about candidates for an internship, fit within the exception for personal matters. The complaint also alleged that, prior to entering closed session, the mayor announced that the meeting was over – but council reconvened after the closed session to conduct additional business. The Ombudsman found that council violated the open meeting rules by failing to ensure that the public could observe the portion of the meeting that followed the closed session. The Ombudsman made several recommendations to the township to improve its meeting practices, including ensuring that minutes are complete and accurate, and that votes are limited to directions to staff or procedural matters.
September 23, 2020
23 September 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the City of Pickering on August 10, 2020.
September 9, 2020
9 September 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for Loyalist Township contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on July 8, 2019, related to an in camera vote. The complaint also raised concerns about the amount of information that council shared in its report back following the closed session. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that council’s discussion was permissible under the Municipal Act’s closed meeting exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege in s. 239(2)(f). However, the Ombudsman found that due to confusion and inadvertence, council’s in camera vote was neither procedural nor a direction to staff contrary to the Act’s voting requirements.
August 31, 2020
31 August 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that closed meetings held by council for the Municipality of West Nipissing on April 20th and May 26th were not audio or video recorded, contrary to requirements in the municipality’s procedure by-law.
August 10, 2020
10 August 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint that council for the Town of Saugeen Shores contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on July 22, November 11 and November 25, 2019. He also received a complaint that council held an informal private gathering that amounted to an illegal closed meeting on February 24, 2020. The Ombudsman’s investigation found no contraventions of the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements.
July 9, 2020
9 July 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding the April 15, 2020, closed meeting of council for the Township of The North Shore.
June 19, 2020
19 June 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint that council discussed a matter that was not listed on the agenda during a closed session on November 19, 2019, and that council held an informal gathering on November 18, 2019 during which they made a decision.
June 10, 2020
10 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 complaint also alleged that councillors subsequently voted via email on whether they would be in favour of accepting the possible donation. The Ombudsman found that the informal discussion and subsequent email did not contravene the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements as these exchanges did not constitute meetings under the Municipal Act. However, the Town of Pelham acted without legal authority when it decided to inform a third-party organization that it was not in favour of accepting a potential donation from a cannabis company. 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.
April 22, 2020
22 April 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint regarding the November 25, 2019 closed meeting of council for the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula.
April 17, 2020
17 April 2020
The Ombudsman received a complaint about a special meeting held by the Township of Russell on April 2 by electronic participation due to COVID-19. The complaint alleged that the meeting agenda did not provide a link to the website where the meeting would be broadcast. The Ombudsman found that council for the Township did not violate the open meeting rules. The Township provided notice to the public that the meeting would be held via electronic participation and posted a link to the broadcast on its website and on social media prior to holding the meeting.
The Ombudsman commended the Township of Russell for taking additional steps to ensure that information about how to observe and participate in electronic meetings was widely available to the public. The Ombudsman urged all municipalities to do as much as possible to facilitate access by the public to any meetings held electronically during a declaration of emergency. This was the first time the Ombudsman conducted an investigation into a municipal meeting following the passage of the Municipal Emergency Act, 2020, which allows for additional flexibility in holding electronic meetings during an emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 14, 2020
14 April 2020
The Ombudsman received complaints regarding a closed session discussion held by council for the City of Niagara Falls on July 29, 2019.
January 23, 2020
23 January 2020
The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting of council for the City of Welland held on September 17, 2019.