Is South Frontenac Giving Improper Notification for Closed Meetings?

There is often a perception that governments in general and our Council specifically have too many discussions behind closed doors and without proper public consultation and involvement.

Analysis of the reasons given for closed meetings in the last two years shows the limited public information. The concern is that Council is not meeting the minimum requirement for pubic notification.

The Court of Appeal, in a case involving the city of Kingston, ruled that: “the resolution to go into closed session should provide a general description of the issue to be discussed in a way that maximizes the information available to the public while not undermining the reason for excluding the public.” Emphasis added.

Basically a motion needs two parts, the legal exemption that allows a subject the considered in closed session and some information on that subject.

During the two years 2017 and 2018 Council moved into closed session to deal with 43 issues. In 37 of these instances only the exemption justifying the closing of the session was given.

For the closed meetings with only the exemption given:
• Litigation was used 11 times;
• Identifiable individual 14 times;
• Client solicitor privilege 3 times;
• Land acquisition 8 times; and,
• Labour relations 1 time.

Potential litigation was also used as an exemption for one closed meeting. I am not sure if this classifies as an exemption or not.

The six meetings with stated subject areas were:
• Litigation – unpaid legal Fees of Developer – Verbal report
• Land Acquisition – senior Housing – Verbal update
• Litigation – verbal Report from Solicitor re: Johnston Point
• Advice from Solicitor re: Hartington Community Association’s Request
• Litigation – Hartington OMB – solicitor to be present for part of the meeting
• Litigation – Hartington Development

Based on this information I have asked for an investigation of how South Frontenac’s Council informs the pubic on discussions in closed sessions.

The following are copy and past sections from the meetings public agendas in the last two years where Council met in closed session.

2018
Committee of the Whole December 11
4. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Litigation
(b) Matters concerning an Identifiable Individual
(c) Matters subject to Client Solicitor
(d) Matters concerning an Identifiable Individual

Council October 2
4. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution
b) Kurt Pearson – Litigation – Verbal

c) Litigation – Unpaid Legal Fees of Developer – Verbal Report
d) Land Acquisition – Seniors Housing – Verbal Update

Council August 4
4. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Minutes of July 3, 2018 Closed Session meeting
b) Minutes from June 5, 2018 Closed Session with Solicitor (for information)
c) Matters about an identifiable individual
d) Property Acquisition

Council July 3

4. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution – Move into Closed Session
b) Litigation – Solicitor to be present
c) Minutes of previous Closed Session
d) Property Acquisition
e) Resolution – Move out of Closed Session

Council June 19
4. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Closed Session Items – Litigation, Property Acquisition and Approval of Minutes
b) Minutes of June 5, 2018 Closed Session
c) Litigation – Solicitor to be present
d) Property Acquisition

Council June 5
5. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Litigation, Property Acquisition and approval of previous closed session minutes
b) Previous Closed Session Minutes – February 20, 2018
c) Litigation – Verbal Report from Solicitor re: Johnston Point
d) Property Acquisition

Council February 20
4. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution – Move to Closed Session
b) Minutes of previous Closed Sessions
c) Litigation

Council January 16
4. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution
b) Minutes of Previous Closed Sessions
c) Personal Matters about an Identifiable Individual

2017

Council December 5
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Approval of Minutes from Closed Meetings
b) Personal matters about an Identifiable individual – Verbal report from CAO
c) Advice that is subject to solicitor client privilege

Committee of the Whole November 14
3. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Litigation – Verbal Report from the CAO
(b) Matters about an Identifiable Individual as requested by Councillor Schjerning

Council November 7
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Approval of Minutes of previous Closed Sessions
b) Matters concerning Identifiable Individuals

Committee of the Whole October 24
3. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Potential Litigation
(b) Matters about an identifiable individual

Council September 5
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution – Move into Closed Session
b) Approval of minutes from previous closed session meetings
c) Labour Relations and Employee Relations
d) Property Acquisition
e) Personnel – matters about an identifiable individual

Council August 1
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution – closed session to discuss litigation (four files) and approve July 11, 2017 closed session minutes (Lawyer to be present)
b) Minutes of July 11, 2017 Closed Session
c) Litigation

Council July 11
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Resolution – Move into Closed Session – To approve closed minutes from May 2 and 30 and for Advice from Solicitor re: Hartington Community Association’s Request
b) Approval of minutes from previous Closed Session meetings
c) Advice from Solicitor
d) Resolution – Return to Open Session

Council May 30
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Litigation – Hartington OMB – Solicitor to be present for part of meeting.
Committee of the Whole May 9
3. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Matters about an Identifiable Individual – Verbal Report

Council May 2
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Minutes of previous Closed Sessions
b) Personal Matters about an Identifiable Individual – Verbal report from the CAO

Committee of the Whole May 11
3. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Litigation

Committee of the whole March 28
3. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Litigation – Hartington Development
(b) Verbal Report – Matters about an Identifiable Individual

Council February 14
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Matters about an Identifiable Individual, to be raised by Councillor Schjerning
b) Property Acquisition

Council January 17
3. Scheduled Closed Session
a) Approval of Previous Closed Session Minutes and Property Acquisition
b) Approval of Closed Session Minutes
c) Property Acquisition

January 10 committee of the whole
3. Scheduled Closed Session
(a) Property Acquisition

About Ross Sutherland

nurse, researcher, public health care activist, councillor South Frontenac Township
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