Update June 28, 11.30am: Township of Muskoka Lakes Council is taking on some extra work tomorrow, on the Friday before the long weekend. Council has posted notice of a closed session stating:
Council in Closed Session will be held for the purpose of educating and training Council members pursuant to section 239(3.1) of the Municipal Act.
Thanks to eagle-eyed MNW readers for noting this morning's earlier MNW post did not include the 3.1 section information. We regret the oversight. Here is what 239 (3.1) is in regard to:
Educational or training sessions
(3.1) <http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/french/elaws_statutes_01m25_f.htm#s239s3p1> 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).
For those who are interested, much of the rest of section 239 refers to procedures for an investigation. At last check, the Township had selected the Local Authority Services, “LAS”, option for investigations into closed meetings. LAS refers to the investigator service provided by the Local Authority Services branch of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (of which the Township is a member). In order to begin an investigation of a closed meeting, a person or councillor must approach the Clerk who then engages LAS. There is no way of the public knowing whether an investigation is under way or whether the Township is considering changing its self investigation policies although any results of any investigation must be made public once all is said and done.
Here is the rest of the wording for Section 239 of the Municipal Act. Remember, investigations can only occur on closed meeting items which makes it difficult for any outsider to launch an investigation when they don't know what went on in the meeting. But tomorrow's meeting is for council training only and it is doubtful it will ever be made public what the council is being trained on.
239.2 (1) Without limiting sections 9, 10 and 11, those sections authorize the municipality to appoint an investigator who has the function to investigate in an independent manner, on a complaint made to him or her by any person, whether the municipality or a local board has complied with section 239 or a procedure by-law under subsection 238 (2) in respect of a meeting or part of a meeting that was closed to the public, and to report on the investigation. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
Powers and duties
(2) Subject to this section, in carrying out his or her functions under subsection (1), the investigator may exercise such powers and shall perform such duties as may be assigned to him or her by the municipality. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
Matters to which municipality is to have regard
(3) In appointing an investigator and in assigning powers and duties to him or her, the municipality shall have regard to, among other matters, the importance of the matters listed in subsection (5). 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
(4) In carrying out his or her functions under subsection (1), the investigator shall have regard to, among other matters, the importance of the matters listed in subsection (5). 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
(5) The matters referred to in subsections (3) and (4) are,
(a) the investigator’s independence and impartiality;
(b) confidentiality with respect to the investigator’s activities; and
(c) the credibility of the investigator’s investigative process. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
6) An investigator may delegate in writing to any person, other than a member of council, any of the investigator’s powers and duties under this Part. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
(7) An investigator may continue to exercise the delegated powers and duties, despite the delegation. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
(8) An investigator is not required to be a municipal employee. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
(9) Subsection 223.13 (6) and sections 223.14 to 223.18 apply with necessary modifications with respect to the exercise of functions described in this section. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
Report and recommendations
(10) If, after making an investigation, the investigator is of the opinion that the meeting or part of the meeting that was the subject-matter of the investigation appears to have been closed to the public contrary to section 239 or to a procedure by-law under subsection 238 (2), the investigator shall report his or her opinion and the reasons for it to the municipality or local board, as the case may be, and may make such recommendations as he or she thinks fit. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.
Publication of reports
(11) The municipality or local board shall ensure that reports received under subsection (10) by the municipality or local board, as the case may be, are made available to the public. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 104.