Closed Meeting Investigator
The Province of Ontario has established rules for a Council, local board or a committee to go into a closed meeting through the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25, as amended. Any person or corporation may request that an investigation be undertaken respecting whether the closed meeting legislation has been contravened.
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 certain 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 Municipal Act states that all meetings of Council shall be open to the public except where the subject matter being considered falls within one of the categories expressly set out in the statute.
The municipal council or local board decides whether a meeting will be closed to the public.
A municipality or local board can close a meeting to the public when dealing with the following:
- The security of the property of the municipality or local board;
- Personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees;
- A proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board;
- Labour relations or employee negotiations;
- Litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals (e.g. Ontario Municipal Board), affecting the municipality or local board;
- Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege;
- A matter in respect of which the 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 significantly prejudice 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, or
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.
Two instances where a municipality must close a meeting to the public are:
- If the subject matter relates to the consideration of a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and if the council, board, commission, or other body is the head of an institution for the purposes of that Act.
- If the subject matter relates to a request for council approval to disclose information about hazards or risks to public safety, which the municipality has identified for the purposes of preparing a municipal emergency management program.
The Municipality has appointed Local Authority Services Limited (LAS) - Amberley Gavel Ltd. as the Closed Meeting Investigator for the Municipality and authorized them to conduct investigations. All requests for a closed meeting investigation are submitted to LAS to review and investigate accordingly.
How to Request an Investigation
Members of the public, including corporations, may submit requests through the Municipal Clerk relating to compliance with the Municipal Act, 2001 for meetings or part of meetings that are closed to the public.
The identity of the requestor will be treated as confidential by the Municipality and the Investigator, unless authorization is given by the requestor to release his or her identity.
The Request Form for a closed meeting investigation is available below or at the Municipal Clerk’s office.
All complaints must contain the following information:
The name of the municipality
Requestor's name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address
Date of the closed meeting under consideration
Nature and background of the particular occurrence
Any activities undertaken to resolve the concern
Any other relevant information
Direction with respect to release of identity
Once the request is received by the Clerk, the Clerk will enact the following procedures:
Ensure that the requests remain confidential
Assign a file number and record that number on the request
Forward the request to the Municipal Closed Meeting Investigator by regular mail
For all requests, the Municipality shall supply the Investigator with the following information or documentation as requested by the Investigator related to a complaint:
Certified copy of Notice of Meeting
Certified copy of the agenda
Certified copy of the minutes of the meeting
Municipal contact list
Any other documents requested
The investigator upon receipt of a request has 30 days to respond.
- Please mail or hand deliver to:
Municipality of Hastings Highlands
33011 Hwy. 62 North
ATT: Municipal Clerk - Suzanne Huschilt
Closed Meeting Investigator Documents
- Bylaw 2018 006 Closed Meeting Investigator Appointment2018-07-11
- Closed Meeting Complaint Form2018-07-11
- Complaint Process Flow Chart2018-07-11
- Closed Meeting Investigator Policy Statement & Procedures2018-07-11