2021

October 18, 2021

18 October 2021

Township of Lucan Biddulph

The Ombudsman reviewed a complaint alleging that meetings held by the Baconfest Committee and two workings groups in the Township of Lucan Biddulph contravened the open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman found that the Baconfest Committee fell within the Township’s definition of “committee” and that council contravened the open meeting rules when it did not provide notice, or record meeting minutes, of Baconfest Committee meetings. The Ombudsman applauded the Township’s proactive choice to dissolve the two working groups, which was done prior to his investigation, and replace them with one committee. The Ombudsman recommended, as a best practice, that the Township formally establish all committees by by-law, and ensure that all meetings are conducted in accordance with the open meeting rules.

October 14, 2021

14 October 2021

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula improperly met in closed session on March 16, 2021, to receive a delegation  contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001.

October 1, 2021

1 October 2021

Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on October 8, 2019. The complaint alleged that council’s discussion did not fit within the exception for litigation and potential litigation under the Municipal Act, 2001. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that council’s discussion was permissible under this exception, as it related to a matter before an administrative tribunal. However, the Ombudsman found that the Township failed to record minutes of the closed session or state by resolution the general nature of the matters to be considered in camera. The Ombudsman recommended that the Township keep minutes of all open and closed meetings, ensure the integrity of any audio recordings of meetings, and make a number of amendments to bring its procedure by-law in line with the requirements under the Municipal Act, 2001.

September 29, 2021

29 September 2021

Township of South Frontenac

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of South Frontenac contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on July 13, 2021.

September 9, 2021

9 September 2021

Municipality of West Nipissing

The Ombudsman received complaints alleging that council for the Municipality of West Nipissing contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on May 12, 2021.

September 4, 2021

4 September 2021

Township of Lanark Highlands

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of Lanark Highlands contravened the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements on September 22, 2020. The complaint alleged that council’s discussion 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). As a best practice, the Ombudsman recommended that the Township ensure that its meeting minutes reflect the council’s discussion on all substantive matters and that closed sessions are recorded.

September 3, 2021

3 September 2021

Township of Lanark Highlands

The Ombudsman received a complaint about the meeting practices of the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) for the ConnectWell Community Health Centre in the Township of Lanark Highlands.

August 4, 2021

4 August 2021

Township of McKellar

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Township of McKellar improperly met in closed session on June 24, 2021, to discuss the West Parry Sound Pool and Wellness Centre contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001.

August 4, 2021

4 August 2021

Township of McKellar

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that three councillors for the Township of McKellar improperly met with the incoming CAO/Clerk on March 3, 2021, contrary to the Municipal Act, 2001.

July 14, 2021

14 July 2021

Township of Bonfield

The Ombudsman found that the Township of Bonfield violated the open meeting rules when it held meetings in May and June 2020 over Zoom, without broadcasting or otherwise making the meetings accessible to the public. The Ombudsman recognized that these were the first meetings held by the Township during the COVID-19 pandemic, but noted that the pandemic did not alter the open meeting requirements. The Ombudsman also found that the Township failed to include information about topics discussed in the meeting minutes, including resolutions that were voted on but failed to pass. He recommended that, as a best practice, the Township improve its minute-taking practices.

July 8, 2021

8 July 2021

Town of Kirkland Lake

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Town of Kirkland Lake contravened the open meeting requirements in the Municipal Act, 2001, when it met in closed session on August 25, 2020. The Ombudsman found that council’s closed session discussion involved scrutinizing individuals’ conduct and job performance and that the employee-employer relationship was central to the discussion. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the ‘personal matters’ and ‘labour relations’ exceptions to the open meeting rules. The Ombudsman found that council for the Town of Kirkland Lake contravened the requirements of s.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.

July 8, 2021

8 July 2021

City of Niagara Falls

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls on October 6, 2020. The complaint alleged that council discussed the designation of the Niagara River as a protected wetland in closed session. The Ombudsman found that this topic fit within the exception for advice subject to solicitor-client privilege as council received legal advice from the City solicitor about the potential designation. However, the Ombudsman found that 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.

June 23, 2021

23 June 2021

City of Hamilton

The Ombudsman received complaints about vote results displayed to the public during electronic meetings held by the City of Hamilton.

May 14, 2021

14 May 2021

Municipality of Grey Highlands

The Ombudsman received a complaint alleging that council for the Municipality of Grey Highlands held a closed session on October 7, 2020, that did not fit within the closed meeting exceptions in the Municipal Act, 2001. Council discussed plans to proceed with negotiations to enter into a joint venture with a third party and provided staff with directions on a series of matters related to the negotiations. The Ombudsman found that the discussion was permissible under the Act’s closed meeting exception for plans and instructions for negotiations.

May 12, 2021

12 May 2021

City of Greater Sudbury

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the City of Greater Sudbury on January 12, 2021 via electronic participation. The complaint alleged that council discussed an entertainment district in closed session. The Ombudsman found that council did not discuss the entertainment district. The Ombudsman found that the topics discussed in closed session fit within the exception for personal matters and information supplied in confidence by a third party. However, the Ombudsman found that 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.

April 22, 2021

22 April 2021

City of Hamilton

The Ombudsman received a complaint about an electronic meeting held by the LGBTQ Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton. The Ombudsman found that the public livestream of the meeting was not available for approximately 23 minutes. As a result, the Ombudsman found that the public was excluded from the meeting contrary to the Municipal Act.

April 15, 2021

15 April 2021

Township of the North Shore

The Ombudsman received a complaint about two closed meetings held by council for the Township of the North Shore on October 8 and October 29, 2020.

April 14, 2021

14 April 2021

Town of Grimsby

The Ombudsman received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Grimsby on February 16, 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.