Closed Meeting Investigations
The Province has set the rules for a Council, local board or a committee to go into a closed meeting. Any person or corporation may request that an investigation be undertaken respecting whether the closed meeting rules have been complied with in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001.
Why are some meetings closed to the public?
Municipal Councils, local boards and their committees must meet behind closed doors on occasion to deal with specific matters. For example, if a municipality is being sued or 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 to staff.
Local government in Ontario must be transparent and accountable. To this end, the Province has set the rules for a Council, local board or a committee to go into a closed meeting. These rules are found in section 239 of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended. They must be strictly followed.
The permitted reasons for going into a closed meeting are:
- The security of property of the municipality or local board;
- Personal matters about an identifiable individual, including employees;
- A proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land;
- Labour relations or employee negotiations;
- Litigation or potential litigation;
- Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege;
- A matter authorized by another provincial statute;
- If the subject matter relates to a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
- The meeting is held for educating and training and no member discusses or deals with a matter in a way that materially advances the business decision-making of the Council or local board.
Before Council, a local board or a committee begins the closed meeting, it must pass a resolution at a public meeting indicating that a closed meeting is being held and disclose the general nature of the matter to be considered. A closed meeting shall not be held by Council, a local board or committee before this resolution is passed.
Any person has the right to request an investigation as to whether the municipality, local board or committee complied with the closed meeting rules established by the Province or the Procedure By-Law of the municipality or local board. A request must be made in writing and should be directed to the Municipal Clerk.
If you have any questions about the closed meeting rules, contact:
Christopher Harris, Clerk
Phone: 905 985 7346, ext. 119
As of January 1, 2008 any person or corporation will be able to 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 firm, Local Authority Services Ltd., the Township of Scugog has engaged the services of Amberley Gavel Ltd. as the Municipal Closed Meeting Investigator and has authorized it to conduct investigations upon receipt of a complaint in respect of meetings or parts of meetings that are closed to the public. The Investigator will determine compliance with the Act or the applicable Procedural By-Law with respect to closed meetings and will report on the results of such investigations.
In the Township of Scugog, the meetings of the bodies to which this legislation applies are Council, General Purpose and Administration Committee, and the Downtown Port Perry BIA.
If you have reason to believe that a closed session meeting or part of a meeting was held in contravention of the Municipal Act, 2001 or the Procedural By-Law, you may make a Request for an Investigation on the established complaint form which can be obtained from the web site or from the Clerk’s office. All complaints must be submitted to the Municipal Clerk and contain the following information:
- Name of municipality.
- Complainant’s name, address, telephone number and email address.
- 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.
- Original signature.
Complaints may be submitted by mail or delivered directly to:
Township of Scugog
181 Perry St.
PORT PERRY, Ontario
All complaints shall be reported within six months of the alleged violation.
The Closed Meeting Investigator shall investigate the complaint and file a report with Council or the applicable local board or committee and the complainant of the results of his/her investigation within ninety days of receiving the complaint. The written report shall provide his/her opinion and the reasons for the opinion and shall make any recommendation that the Meeting Investigator deems appropriate.