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. The purpose of a closed meeting is to receive certain information or give direction.
Municipal governments in Ontario must be transparent and accountable. The provincial government 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.
When can a meeting be closed to the public?
A meeting or part of a meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter is:
- 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
- For educating and training where no member discusses or deals with a matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of the council or local board
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 or it relates to an ongoing investigation respecting the municipality, a local board or a municipally-controlled corporation by the Ombudsman.
What meetings are required to comply with the legislation?
In the City of Barrie, the meetings of the bodies to which this legislation applies includes City Council, General Committee, and Reference Committees and specific Advisory Committees.
What steps do I take if I have a concern?
- Contact the City 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 City’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 Local Authority Services Limited (LAS), the City of Barrie 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 request for investigation regarding meetings or parts of meetings that are closed to the public. LAS was chosen so that independence, impartiality and credibility of the investigation are ensured. LAS is a subsidiary of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).
The investigator will determine compliance with the Municipal Act, 2001 or the City of Barrie’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. Copies of the form are available in the Legislative and Court Services Department. 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.
All requests shall be sealed in an envelope clearly marked “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” and submitted by mail or in person directly to:
The Corporation of the City of Barrie
Attention: City Clerk
City Hall, 1st Floor
70 Collier Street
Barrie, ON L4M 4T5
All requests will be treated as confidential as required by law. Requests will be forwarded directly to LAS by the City Clerk. The City Clerk will provide the investigator with a certified copy of the meeting agenda, meeting minutes, the City’s Procedural By-law, notice, and a copy of other relevant information. LAS will only investigate issues referred to them by the municipality.
All requests must be received by the City Clerk within one (1) year of the date of the meeting to which the request is related.