Council disgraces itself again on its use of CLOSED meetings- they don't understand the rules and public gets left in the dark

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2021



ombudsan manual logoWhile waiting for City Council to come out of yet another CLOSED meeting, I was able to spend a few minutes on the Ombudsman’s web site where they set out the Top 10 tips for municipal officials

Know and follow the Municipal Act, 2001 and your procedure by-law’s open meeting requirements.

Make sure you have a procedure by-law that complies with the Municipal Act – every municipality and local board is required to have one.

Give adequate advance public notice of all meetings, including the time and location of all meetings.

Keep meetings open to the public unless closure is specifically authorized under the Municipal Act and there is a real need to exclude the public.

Pick the right s. 239 exception before closing a meeting.

Pass a resolution in public that includes meaningful information about the issue to be considered (not just the exception) – before closing the doors.

Record the meeting, including all decisions, by taking minutes, and preferably also by recording audio or video.

Stay on topic – don’t stray from the subject stated in the resolution.

Do not hold a vote in closed session unless it is for a procedural matter or to give directions to staff or officials.

To the extent possible, report back publicly in open session about what occurred in closed session.

The spirit of the law can be summed up in six words: When in doubt, open the meeting.

Rory H&S 2

Committee chair Rory Nisan – didn’t appear to remember what he read in the Procedural bylaw.

The Spirit of being open, public and transparent didn’t get beyond lip service with this council as they toiled with a budget that was difficult.

The behaviour of this Council was well below disappointing and needs to be brought to the attention of the Ombudsman for some corrective action.

Bad enough that Rory Nisan, Chair of the Standing Committee, let things run wild, worse that we have a Clerk who clearly does not fully understand the purpose of the Section 239 exceptions.  Clerk Kevin Arjoon needs to be sent out for some training.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 comments to Council disgraces itself again on its use of CLOSED meetings- they don’t understand the rules and public gets left in the dark

  • Blair Smith

    I think the state of ‘open government’ with this Council is at a completely low ebb. It’s unfortunate and very disappointing since it was one of the major platform planks for both the mayor and several of the Councilors. Indeed, a well-articulated and sequenced ‘open government’ program had been developed for implementation when the new Council was sworn in, over two years ago. However, ‘open government’ which is only an expression of the principle that citizens have the right to know about and participate in decisions that affect them has not found an easy reception at Burlington City Hall. “Open government” demands a certain state of mind on the part of public officials, a receptivity to the concept that the citizen is a partner in governance not just a client or a service point. It requires a willingness to cede some elements of control to those served. None of this is on display here.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Well stated, Pepper. When the Mayor and Council are asking for a tax increase, taxpayers have every right to know the discussions and decisions–transparency and accountability demand it!

  • Not only for closed meeting but Special meetings according to the Procedure By-laws Special meetings cannot be scheduled through the Annual Calendar. Arjoon is responsible for recommending the March 3, 2021 Special Council meeting set to approve the Operating budget
    set through the Annual Calendar and insists that is OK LOL What are those who repeatedly approve our Procedure by-laws and then ignore them, smoking!