Why are some meetings closed to the public?
Generally, municipal councils, local boards and their committees hold their meetings in public. They meet behind closed doors on occasion to deal with some matters. For example, if Council is considering purchasing a piece of land or if Council must deal with a labour relations issue, then it is appropriate that it be able to do so at a closed meeting. The purpose of such a closed meeting is to receive information or give direction.
Local government in Ontario must be transparent and accountable. To this end, the Province has set the rules for Council, local boards or a committee to go into a closed meeting. These rules are found in section 239 of the Municipal Act, 2001 and are included within the Township of Malahide’s Procedural By-law. They must be strictly followed.
When can a meeting be closed to the public?
A meeting or part of a meeting must be closed to the public if the subject matter is related to a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. A meeting or part of a meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter is:
- The security of the property of the Township,
- Personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees;
- A proposed or pending acquisition or disposal of land by the Township;
- Employee negotiations or labour relations;
- Litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the Township;
- Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose;
- A matter in respect of which a Council, Board, Committee or other body may hold a closed meeting under another Act.
- Information explicitly supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board by Canada, a province or territory or a Crown agency of any of them;
- A trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board, which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization;
- A trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial or financial information that belongs to the municipality or local board and has monetary value or potential monetary value;
- A position, plan, procedure, criteria or instruction to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of the municipality or local board;
- A meeting shall be closed to the public if the subject matter relates to the consideration of a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act if the Council is designated as head of the institution for the purposes of that Act.
- A meeting of the Council may be closed to the public if the following conditions are both satisfied:
- (a) The meeting is held for the purpose of educating or training the members.
- (b) At the meeting, no member discusses or otherwise deals with any matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of the Council.
What meetings are required to comply with the legislation?
In the Township of Malahide, the meetings of the bodies to which this legislation applies are:
- Committee of Adjustment
- Building and Property Review Committee.
What steps do I take if I have a concern?
- Contact the Clerk and see if they are able to answer your question or concern.
- If you believe that the meeting was closed to the public in a way that is not permitted by the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Township’s Procedural By-law, submit a request for investigation form or a written request for a meeting investigation.
What is a meeting investigation?
As of January 1, 2008, any person or corporation can request that an investigation be undertaken respecting whether a municipality or local board, or a committee of either, has complied with closed meeting rules outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001 or the applicable procedural by-law.
Through the County of Elgin, the Township of Malahide has engaged the services of Independent Resolutions Inc. as the Municipal Closed Meeting Investigator and has authorized it to conduct investigations upon receipt of a request for investigation regarding meetings or parts of meetings that are closed to the public.
The investigator will determine compliance with the Municipal Act, 2001 or the Township of Malahide’s Procedural By-law with respect to closed meetings and will report on the results of such investigations. During the investigation, the investigator may contact you for further information.
The investigator will only investigate meetings that were held on or after January 1, 2008.
Request for Investigation Procedure
A request for investigation must be submitted on the established form. All requests must be submitted in a sealed envelope marked “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” and contain all of the following information:
- Name of municipality
- Your name, mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address (if applicable)
- Date of closed meeting under consideration
- Nature and background of the particular occurrence
- Any activities undertaken (if any) to resolve the concern
- Any other relevant information
- Your signature.
Enclose a cheque for $25.00, payable to the Township of Malahide (or if you are delivering the complaint in person, cash or debit card payments will be accepted). You will receive a receipt from the Township of Malahide for this payment.
All requests shall be sealed in an envelope clearly marked “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” and submitted by mail or in person directly to:
Township of Malahide
87 John Street South
Aylmer, ON N5H 2C3
All requests will be treated as confidential as required by law. Requests will be forwarded directly to Independent Resolutions Inc. by the Clerk. The Clerk will provide the investigator with a certified copy of the meeting agenda, meeting minutes, the Township’s Procedural By-law, notice, and a copy of other relevant information. Independent Resolutions Inc. will only investigate issues referred to them by the municipality.
All requests must be received by the Clerk within one (1) year of the date of the meeting to which the request is related.
Why is there a fee to submit a request for investigation?
The Township pays an annual retainer to Independent Resolutions Inc. and an hourly rate for each investigation, plus expenses. The $25 fee seems appropriate to the service provided.
Note: There is no charge to contact the Clerk to discuss your questions or concerns. The fee noted above relates specifically to requests for investigation referred to Independent Resolutions Inc.
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