Open & Closed Meetings

OPEN MEETING REQUIREMENTS

Generally, municipalities in the Province of Ontario and their committees and local boards are required by law to give notice and hold their meetings in public.

The Town of Lincoln takes a number of steps to ensure the highest degree of openness and transparency for meetings of Council and its committees.

  • We give notice of all meetings of Council and its committees in accordance with principles detailed in Council’s Procedure By-law.
  • We make agendas, reports and by-laws to be considered at meetings available for inspection at Town Hall.
  • We post agendas, reports and by-laws to our website before meetings and we post decisions and minutes as soon as possible after meetings.
  • We only close meetings when legally permitted or required to do so, and confine the debate in those sessions to the confidential information subject to consideration.
  • We minimize the amount of confidential information in reports and documents before committee and Council.

SOME MEETINGS CAN BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC

However, sometimes it is necessary and appropriate to close a meeting to the public so that Council or one of its committees can consider confidential information, as permitted by law, in regard to certain matters.

For example, if the Town is involved in a lawsuit, 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 so that the municipality does not prejudice its interests or the interests of its citizens. Generally, the purpose of such a closed meeting is for Council to receive information or to give specific direction regarding a matter.

Local government in Ontario must be transparent and accountable. To this end, the Province has set the rules for councils, their committees and local boards to go into a closed session 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:

 

ü      The security of property of the municipality or local board;

ü      Personal matters about an identifiable individual, including employees;

ü      A proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land;

ü      Labour relations or employee negotiations;

ü      Litigation or potential litigation

ü      Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege;

ü      A matter authorized by another provincial statute;

ü      If the subject matter relates to a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;

ü      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 or decision-making of the council or local board.

 

Except for votes on procedure or votes to give confidential instructions to staff or agents of the Town; no votes are taken in closed session.

Under the Town’s procedures, even if a closed session is required to consider a matter, the meeting begins and ends in open, public session.  Before closing a meeting, the committee or Council will adopt a motion to close the meeting setting out the nature of the subject to be discussed and the statutory reason for closing the session.

 

IF YOU BELIEVE THAT A MEETING HAS BEEN IMPROPERLY CLOSED

If you believe that a meeting has been improperly closed to the public, you may at any time discuss your thoughts and concerns with the Municipal Clerk to obtain additional information regarding Provincial Law and Council’s Procedure By-law with respect to open and closed meetings.
 

In addition, under the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended, 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.  Your request must be for a meeting that took place on January 1, 2008 or after. The provisions of the Municipal Act, 2001 are not retroactive to meetings that took place in 2007 or earlier.

Formal requests for an investigation must be in writing, be accompanied by an application fee of $125.00 and be directed to:

 

The Corporation of the Town of Lincoln

Attn: Town Clerk
4800 South Service Road
Beamsville, Ontario
L0R 1B1

 

An Application Form is available to assist in making your request.

The Town of Lincoln has retained the services of an impartial and independent investigator through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Local Services Authority to conduct its investigations.  The firm of Amberley Gavel Ltd. will undertake confidential and credible investigations for the Town of Lincoln pursuant to the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001.  Upon receipt of an application, the Clerk will assemble a comprehensive, official record as it relates to the meeting in question and forward it to the investigator for action. 

 

 

4800 South Service Road
Beamsville, Ontario
L0R 1B1
  

TEL: 905-563-8205
FAX: 905-563-6566
Emergency After-hours: 905-641-0971
info@lincoln.ca

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