A couple reports from the Ontario Ombudsman are out regarding conduct in Timmins city council chambers in 2016.

And in both cases filed in September, the Ombudsman Paul Dubé found Timmins council contravened the Municipal Act in some way.

The first report is in regards to a meeting held on June 27th, when council went in-camera to discuss the recruitment process to replace retiring CAO Joe Torlone.

“The discussion did not fall within the personal matters exception to the Municipal Act’s open meeting requirements,” read the report.

The Ombudsman also states council should not have voted in-camera or make use of a secret ballot to form the hiring committee.

The report also lists five recommendations.  CLICK HERE for the full Ombudsman report.

Meantime, the other complaint had to do with two in-camera meetings on August 8th and 29th in regards to the Stars and Thunder festival.

According to the document, the complaint alleged the city “held illegal closed meetings to discuss plans for the city’s Canada Day celebrations in 2017.”

The report also mentions accusations that “the city improperly provided direction to the mayor during the closed sessions.”

As part of the investigation, the Ombudsman found Mayor Steve Black called the August 8th meeting to determine if there was an appetite for the festival.

The Ombudsman says the discussions didn’t fit under the exception under the Municipal Act for client-solicitor privilege and council wasn’t permitted to provide direction.

Dube did add when council discussed legal advice received on the August 29th closed session, it wasn’t in contradiction of the act and as such, any direction to Black was permissible.

Four recommendations were listed.  CLICK HERE for the full Ombudsman report.


Councillor Rick Dubeau says this information “strengthens and justifies” what he’s been saying all along.

He says council needs to be transparent with all their issues going forward.

Dubeau also brought up that the information from the reports were made public late Monday afternoon, but council wasn’t made aware of it at all.

“Again, not being transparent,” he added.

“We have to make sure that we, as a council, follow the rules of the Municipal Act and make sure that our staff follow the rules of the Municipal Act. Quite simply, the taxpayers of Timmins have a right to know everything that’s going on at city hall, unless it concerns a legal matter…everything else has to be made public.”

Calls to the Mayor’s office have gone unanswered as of 10:50am Tuesday morning.

Mayor Black did post a response to public inquiries on the matter. He says he has no issues with the report.

“Just like I told the Ombudsman when they called, we went in-camera to discuss negotiations for the festivals including headliners who had confidentiality requests. However, there is no clause to enter in camera to have these discussions in current legislation,” he wrote.

“I asked how we would discuss them if can’t go in-camera and can’t be done publicly per performers confidentiality until ready to be discussed and voted on final agreement. The only way to do it in current legislation is to not take it to council until final negotiations are done and that has its issues too.”

This is a common thing many municipalities are dealing with. Black heard this is why a bill is before the House of Commons “to change the clauses to go in camera to include negotiations, which is what we did and would be allowed to do once new legislation passes based on the issue.”

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