BRIEF: Ottawa Will Update Local Board Definition Following Hamilton Divisional Court Ruling

The City of Ottawa will be one of the first municipalities in Ontario to update its definition of Local Board following the 2021 decision of Ontario’s Divisional Court in Kroetsch v. Integrity Commissioner for the City of Hamilton, 2021 ONSC 7982.

The Divisional Court upheld Hamilton’s interpretation that advisory committees serve a purpose related to the City’s affairs and purposes.

In a report to Ottawa City Council on December 7, 2022, Ottawa City Clerk Rick O’Connor outlines changes to Ottawa’s by-laws and procedures to reflect the ruling.

Advisory Committees do not possess decision-making authority. On this basis, staff have previously determined that the City’s Advisory Committees do not fall under the category of “local board” pursuant to the Municipal Act, 2001,” writes O’Connor. O’Connor holds a law degree.

“However, on December 15, 2021, a Divisional Court ruling found that the City of Hamilton’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee is a local board under the Municipal Act, 2001. Specifically, the Court found that, consistent with the definition of “local board” in the Municipal Act, 2001, the City of Hamilton had established the LGBTQ Advisory Committee utilizing Council’s powers under the Municipal Act, 2001 for a purpose that relates to the City’s affairs and purposes. The decision further notes that the LGBTQ Advisory Committee was not an “ad hoc informal committee.” Specifically, the Committee is established in accordance with Hamilton’s Council Procedure By-law which formalizes the criteria, function, operations and reporting for advisory committees, and requires advisory committee members to abide by a code of conduct. The Court found that the LGBTQ Advisory Committee has ‘a measure of independence, but it is integral to the day-to-day business of the City.”

O’Connor states he will present a report in Q2 2023 with “a further review” of Ottawa’s Advisory Committees to determine if they now qualify as “Local Boards” under the Municipal Act.


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Published: December 29, 2022
Last edited: December 29, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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