2021

March 31, 2021

31 March 2021

City of Richmond Hill

The Ombudsman received complaints about in-person closed meetings held by council for the City of Richmond Hill on April 16 and May 14, 2019, and about electronic council meetings held on April 1, April 22, and May 14, 2020. The Ombudsman found that at each meeting where it was discussed, council’s discussion in camera about a land use planning matter that had been appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal fit within the exception for litigation or potential litigation. However, the Ombudsman found that on April 22 and May 14, 2020, council’s resolution to go in camera was not broadcast live. The Ombudsman recommended that the City ensure that the public is able to observe all open portions of electronic meetings, including the resolution to go in camera and any business conducted after rising from closed session, even when the only item on the agenda is an in camera matter. The Ombudsman also recommended that the City ensure that information on how to access the live broadcast of an electronic meeting is provided in all meeting notices.

March 29, 2021

29 March 2021

Town of Hawkesbury

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 found that the Town did not violate the Act’s open meeting requirement because the Mayor’s sequential discussions did not constitute meetings under the Act.

March 29, 2021

29 March 2021

Township of Lake of Bays

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held on August 19, 2020, by council for the Township of Lake of Bays.

March 17, 2021

17 March 2021

County of Norfolk

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the County of Norfolk met in closed session to discuss the budget under the exceptions for personal matters, labour relations and acquisition or disposition of land. The closed session discussion focused on reducing service levels in the municipality by eliminating staff positions. Ombudsman found that council discussed items that fit under the exceptions for personal matters and labour relations. The Ombudsman also found that council’s discussion about selling municipal land to raise capital fit within the “acquisition or disposition of land” exception.

March 12, 2021

12 March 2021

Village of Westport

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.

March 2, 2021

2 March 2021

City of Sault Ste. Marie

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the City of Sault Ste. Marie on July 13, 2020.

February 23, 2021

23 February 2021

Township of Russell

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell on September 8, 2020.

February 10, 2021

10 February 2021

Town of Plympton-Wyoming

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Town of Plympton-Wyoming held a meeting on June 24, 2020 that did not fit within the closed meeting exceptions in the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman found that council contravened the Act when it discussed how to fill the council vacancy in closed session. The Ombudsman found that this portion of the discussion did not fit within the exception cited under the Act for “personal matters”. Further, because the discussion was not permitted to be closed to the public, council contravened the Act when it decided, in camera, to fill the vacancy by appointment rather than by holding a by-election. The Ombudsman found that council’s closed session discussion regarding two individuals interested in filling the council vacancy fit within the “personal matters” exception under the Act. The Ombudsman also found that council’s vote to consider a motion in open session was a direction to staff and permitted under the Act.

February 3, 2021

3 February 2021

Municipality of Temagami

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Municipality of Temagami discussed matters during two closed meetings that did not fit into the exceptions in the Municipal Act. Council met in closed session on June 13, 2019 to discuss a harassment complaint under the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that the discussion only focused on the fact that a complaint had been made and did not include any personal information about identifiable individuals. Council met in closed session on November 7, 2019 to receive the findings of an Integrity Commissioner investigation and harassment investigations. During the meeting, council received legal advice from a lawyer. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exceptions for personal matters and advice subject to solicitor-client privilege.

February 2, 2021

2 February 2021

Township of Lanark Highlands

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.

January 28, 2021

28 January 2021

Town of Greater Napanee

The Ombudsman received several complaints related to the meeting practices of the Board of Management for the Greater Napanee Business Improvement Area (the Greater Napanee BIA), which is a local board in the Town of Greater Napanee. The complainants alleged that the Board of Management made a decision about charging a levy without holding a properly constituted board meeting. They also alleged that on June 24, 2020, board members met in private at a local business, contrary to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements.

The Ombudsman found that the board did not violate the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements with regard to the levy decision or the social gathering. The Ombudsman also did not support the complainants’ contention that the then-Chair acted unilaterally regarding the levy.

January 13, 2021

13 January 2021

Township of Johnson

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that the committee of the whole for the Township of Johnson discussed matters during a closed session of a special council meeting on October 29, 2019, that did not fit within the exceptions to the open meeting rules in the Municipal Act. Further, the complainant alleged that the Township did not provide notice for the special council meeting. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s discussion about the employment history and qualifications of identifiable individuals fit within the personal matters exception to the Municipal Act’s open meeting rules. Further, the Ombudsman found that the Township of Johnson provided sufficient notice for the special council meeting. However, the Ombudsman found that the committee of the whole violated the open meeting rules when it had a vote in closed session to recommend a candidate to fill the council vacancy.