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Burlington Committee to Discuss Closed Session Meeting Investigation Report by Aird & Berlis LLP

Coming to Committee - Closed Meeting Investigation Report - TW

I know many questions have been raised concerning closed, confidential meetings happening at the City’s committee and Council meetings — most recently, around meetings dealing with the purchase of Robert Bateman High School, and a Committee of Adjustment matter on Balmoral Ave.

These were the subject of a recent independent Integrity Commissioner investigation and report.

During that process, claims were made that this Council is inappropriately going into closed session and that the number of closed session meetings have increased. No evidence has been presented to support either of these claims.

However, there is a formal process available to the public, Council members or staff, to seek an independent ruling on any concerns about closed session meetings from our Closed Meeting Investigator.

Council is committed to continuous improvement in everything we do, and part of that is to look into concerns about closed session meetings.

In February, I asked our independent Closed Meeting Investigator to look into these meetings, and several others, to advise us if we were, in fact, properly in closed session, and further to advise if our “report out” resolution that passed following each closed session complied with our Procedure Bylaw.

I think it’s important for us to get an answer either way and if something is found that needs improvement, we’ll improve it.

The report by Aird & Berlis LLP is now complete and on the public agenda for Wednesday’s (May 4) Corporate Services, Risk & Accountability (CSSRA) Committee meeting.

In short, the Closed Meeting Investigator found we were properly discussing the items we did in closed session and “the City did not contravene subsection 239(2) of the Municipal Act, 2001 or the Procedure Bylaw.”

This Council is committed to transparency and accountability, and continuous improvement in all our activities. To that end, we unanimously approved a report from the City Manager to review and update our Code of Good Governance, as well as conduct a review of closed meeting procedures and recommend any improvements. We will have that report in June 2022.

I also invite residents to familiarize themselves with the tools available to hold Council members and staff to account, especially between elections. These are: the Office of the Ombudsman; Integrity Commissioner; and Closed Meeting Investigator.

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Delegating at the Meeting:

Any member of the public wishing to delegate at committee can register at www.burlington.ca/delegation or by emailing the Clerks Dept. at clerks@burlington.ca or calling 905-335-7600, ext. 7481.

If you have presentation materials, they must be submitted to the Clerks Dept. no later than noon (12 p.m.) one business day before the meeting to allow its distribution and review by all members of the Committee. The content of all submissions is considered to be public and will be posted to the City’s website.

Speakers are limited to a maximum of 10 minutes each and are webcasted online.

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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