Council cleared of meeting complaint

Deep River council has been cleared of a complaint that it held an improper closed meeting this spring on the CNL fire service agreement.

In a letter included on this week’s council agenda, Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube says a complaint was filed about council’s meeting on May 16.

The complaint argued that council held a vote during the closed meeting that did not comply with the open meeting rules in the province’s Municipal Act.

Under the Municipal Act, councils are not permitted to hold a vote in closed session “unless the vote was for a procedural matter or for giving directions to staff,” Dube said.

In this case, Dube said council passed a resolution during the closed session “which contained a direction to staff related to (the town’s) protection and safety committee.”

“This in camera direction was permissible,” Dube wrote.

“My office’s review found that an improper vote did not occur during the May 16, 2018 closed session.”

Dube said that as the closed meeting investigator for Deep River, his office reviewed the minutes of the council meeting on May 16 “as well as correspondence between staff and members of the protection and safety committee.”

Investigators also spoke to Mayor Joan Lougheed about the complaint.

“Mayor Lougheed confirmed to members of my office that the vote was a direction to staff,” Dube said.

The town signed its three-year fire services agreement with CNL on May 28.

The agreement allowed for a return to on-duty coverage at the Deep River fire hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with CNL fire services providing management, personnel and training to the town’s department.

The term of the agreement expires March 31, 2021, with both sides committed to a review beginning in September 2020.