Local government closed meetings
All meetings of local government elected and appointed bodies (committees, commissions and other subsidiary bodies) must be open to the public unless authorized to be closed.
Under certain circumstances elected officials may close a meeting or part of a meeting by passing a resolution in an open meeting that sets out the basis for closing the meeting.
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Municipal councils or regional district boards may close a meeting or part of a meeting by passing a resolution that sets out the basis for closing the meeting to discuss any of the following:
- Personal information about individuals appointed to or being considered for appointment as an officer, employee or agent of the local government
- Personal information about individuals being considered for an award or who have offered a gift to the local government on condition of anonymity
- Labour/employee relations
- Security of property of the local government
- Acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements if local government interests could be harmed by disclosure
- Law enforcement, if disclosure could harm an investigation or enforcement of an enactment
- Litigation or potential litigation impacting the local government
- A hearing or potential hearing by an outside administrative tribunal affecting the local government, for example, the Gaming Commission, the Passenger Transportation Board or the Utilities Commission
- The receipt of legal advice
- Information that is prohibited or information that if it were presented in a document would be prohibited from disclosure under section 21 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (business interests of a third party)
- Service negotiations and related discussions that are at their preliminary stages and that could harm the interests of the local government if held in public
- A matter related to the local government that is being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsperson
- Objectives, measures and progress report discussions with local government officers and employees for the purposes of preparing annual reports
- A matter that, under a separate enactment, may be discussed in a closed meeting
- Deciding whether or not the meeting should be closed
- Deciding whether or not a local government wishes to use the authority under section 91 of the Community Charter to exclude staff or allow them to attend a closed meeting, or in specified circumstances to allow other persons to attend a closed meeting
Local governments may not adopt bylaws in a closed meeting. All council or board votes on the reading or adoption of a bylaw must be made in an open meeting, even if the issues that gave rise to the bylaw were discussed in a closed meeting.
A municipal council or regional district board resolution required to close a meeting or part of a meeting must be passed in the open part of a meeting and the resolution must state the:
- Fact that the meeting or part of the meeting is to be closed
- Basis under section 90 of the Community Charter for which the meeting or part is to be closed
When crafting the resolution, local governments will need to reference the specific wording in the Community Charter, section 90, subsections 1 and 2 in order to explain why the meeting, or part of the meeting, is being closed.
Minutes of closed meetings must record the names of all persons in attendance. If a municipal council or regional district board excludes staff from closed meetings, the minutes of the meeting must be taken by someone in attendance at the meeting.
The corporate officer is still responsible to ensure that the minutes are accurate. Assigning minute-taking responsibility to an elected official may affect the ability of the corporate officer to fulfil this responsibility. For this reason, elected officials may want to limit the circumstances in which the corporate officer or another staff person able to take minutes is excluded from closed meetings.
Council members or former council members are required, unless specifically authorized by council, to keep in confidence:
- Any record held in confidence by the municipality until the municipality authorizes its release
- Information considered in a lawfully closed council meeting or council committee meeting, until council discusses the information at an open meeting or releases the information
This requirement also applies to regional district board members and former board members.
Confidentiality must be maintained until the local government makes the information public.
If the local government suffers loss or damage because a council or board member or former council or board member contravenes the requirement to respect confidentiality and the contravention was not inadvertent, the local government may seek damages through the courts.