Closed Meeting Investigations

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 such a closed meeting is to receive information or give direction.

closed meetings

Closed Meeting Investigation Reports

Why are some meetings closed to the public?

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 and are included within the County of Bruce's Procedure By-law.  They must be strictly followed.

When can a meeting be closed to the public?

A meeting or part of a meeting must 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 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 affecting the municipality or local board;
  • Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose;
  • A matter in respect of which a 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 ot a 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 prejudice significantly 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;
  • A position, plan or procedure or 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;
  • A request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, if the Council, board or commission or other body is the head of an institution for the purposes of that Act;
  • An ongoing investigation respecting the municipality, a local board of a municipally-controlled corporation by the Ombudsman appointed under the Ombudsman Act, an Ombudsman referred to in subsection 223.13 (1) of this Act, or the investigator referred to in subsection 239.2(1); and,
  • 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.

What steps do I take if I have a concern?

1.  Contact the Clerk and see if they are able to answer your question or concern.

2.  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 County's procedure by-law, submit a Complaint Form or a written request for a municipal closed meeting investigation.

What is a meeting investigation?

Any person or corporation will be able to request that an investigation be undertaken respecting whether a municipality or local board or committee of either, has complied with closed meeting rules outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001 or the applicable procedure by-law.

As of January 1, 2021 the Ontario Ombudsman will act as the County of Bruce Closed Meeting Investigator and has been authorized to conduct investigations upon receipt of a complaint regarding meetings or parts of meetings that are closed to the public.

The investigator will determine compliance with the Municipal Act or the County of Bruce's procedure 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

The complaint form can be obtained from the Clerk's Office or by clicking on Complaint Form on this page. All complaints must be submitted in a sealed envelope marked "private and confidential" and contain the following information:

  1. Name of the Municipality
  2. Complainant's name, mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address (if applicable)
  3. Date of closed meeting under consideration
  4. Nature and background of the particular occurrence
  5. Any activities undertaken (if any) to resolve the concern
  6. Any other relevant information
  7. Original signature

All complaints shall be sealed in an envelope clearly marked "Private and Confidential" and submitted by mail or in person directly to: 

County of Bruce
30 Park Street, P.O. Box 70
Walkerton, ON N0G 2v0


All complaints will be treated as confidential at all times and will be forwarded directly to the County's Closed Meeting Investigator.

Contact us
Donna Van Wyck
Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
Location:  Walkerton Administration Centre Tel:  519-881-1291


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