Closed Session Meetings

Closed Session Meetings

Why are some meetings closed to the public?

Municipal councils, local boards and their committees must meet behind closed doors on occasion to deal with some matters. For example, if a municipality is being sued 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. The purpose of such a closed meeting is to receive information or give direction.

Local government in Ontario must be transparent and accountable. To this end, the Province 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, as amended. They must be strictly followed.

The permitted reasons for going into a closed meeting are:

  • 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;
  • If the subject matter relates to a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information an Protection of Privacy Act;
  • 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 decision-making of the council or local board.


As of January 1, 2008 any person or corporation will be able to 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 Ltd. (LAS), the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake 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 complaint in respect of meetings or parts of meetings that are closed to the public. The Investigator will determine compliance with the Act or the applicable procedural by-law with respect to closed meetings and will report on the results of such investigations.

In the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the meetings of the bodies to which this legislation applies are Council and the following:

Committee-of-the-Whole (Four Standing Committees)

  • Corporate Services Advisory Committee
  • Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee
  • Community & Development Advisory Committee
  • Public Works Advisory Committee

 Local Committees/Boards

  • Committee of Adjustment
  • Municipal Heritage Committee
  • Niagara District Airport Commission

Complaint Procedure

Complaints may be submitted on the established complaint form or via written request. The complaint form may be printed from the website or can be obtained from the Town Clerk’s Department. All complaints must be submitted in a sealed envelope marked “private and confidential” and contain the following information:

  1. Name of 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

Complaints may be submitted by mail or delivery directly to:

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake
1593 Four Mile Creek Road
PO Box 100
Virgil, ON  L0S 1T0

Attention:  Holly Dowd, Director of Corporate Services / Town Clerk

Please remember to mark the sealed envelope “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL”
All complaints will be treated as confidential at all times and will be forwarded directly to Amberley Gavel Ltd.

For more information on this topic, please contact the Clerk’s Department at 905-468-3266.