Closed Meeting Investigations
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 some 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.
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 an 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.
Since 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 Local Authority Services Ltd., Norfolk County 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 Norfolk County the meetings of the bodies to which this legislation applies are Council, Council-In-Committee, Committee of Adjustment, Delhi & Simcoe Downtown Business Improvement Area Boards of Management, By-Law Appeals Committee, Health & Social Services Advisory Comittee, Court of Revision and the Board of Health.
Complaints may be submitted on the established complaint form or via written request. The complaint form may be printed from the website or can be obtained from the County Clerk’s Division. All complaints must be submitted in a sealed envelope marked ‘private and confidential’ and contain the following information:
- Name of municipality
- Name of Local Board or Committee (if applicable)
- Complainant’s 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 other relevant information
- Original signature
Complaints may be submitted by mail or delivery directly to:
50 Colborne St. S.
Simcoe, ON N3Y 4H3
Attention: Clerk/Manager of Council Services
and please remember to mark the sealed envelop ‘PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL’
All complaints will be treated as confidential at all times and will be forwarded directly to Amberley Gavel Ltd.’
For more information on this topic, please submit comments or inquiries to the County Clerk.
Phone: 519-426-5870, Ext. 1228