City Council cannot hold its “Council Priorities Workshop” meeting in closed session.
The City wants the meeting in closed session, citing the Municipal Act exception for training.
Section 239(3.1) of the Act states [emphasis added]:
A meeting of a council or local board or of a committee of either of them may be closed to the public if the following conditions are both satisfied:
1. The meeting is held for the purpose of educating or training the members.
2. At the meeting, no member discusses or otherwise deals with any matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of the council, local board or committee. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 103 (1).
“Priorities Workshop” Not Training
Council’s strategy setting meeting is not training and does not meet requirement 1 of the open meeting exception.
Mayor Andrea Horwath’s January 18, 2023, motion calling the meeting stated [emphasis added]:
Council Priorities Workshop
WHEREAS, Hamiltonians will benefit most from a council that, as a whole, sets out clear priorities,
WHEREAS, urgent needs in our communities will be addressed more quickly and efficiently by a council that is working together to make tangible progress on our most pressing challenges and opportunities,
WHEREAS, this council will be able to more effectively direct staff work and get results for Hamiltonians by setting out clear priorities for the term,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That staff be directed to work with the Mayor, Councillor M. Wilson, Councillor Beattie, and Councillor Jackson, to plan a workshop for council at which Council as a whole will set priorities as a group for the 2022 – 2026 term of office; and, That the workshop and final council product be completed by March 31st 2023.
The motion makes no mention of training.
Failing to meet requirement 1, the meeting cannot be held in closed session.
Members Will Discuss Matters That Advance City Business
While moving the motion during the January council meeting, Mayor Horwath said the workshop’s goal is “we will understand what it is that we want to be doing over the next couple of years.”
The motion states Council “will set priorities” for the 2022-2026 term.
The Municipal Act Section 239(3.1) restricts closed training sessions to those in which “no member discusses or otherwise deals with any matter in a way that materially advances the business” of the council.
Discussing and setting priorities will blatantly violate this requirement.
Failing to meet requirement 2, the meeting cannot be held in closed session.
Production Details v. 1.0.0 Published: March 21, 2023 Last edited: March 21, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version