Bruce County DGR meetings violated Municipal Act, says report

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An investigation into meetings held between OPG, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and Bruce County councillors has determined that Bruce County council contravened the Municipal Act.

 

The report, presented during Bruce County’s council meeting last Thursday, reveals the results of a closed meeting investigation by Amberley Gavel Ltd. after a complaint was launched about meetings held between 2004 and 2013 to discuss OPG’s proposed deep geological repository project to store low and intermediate level nuclear waste. The complainant alleges that the meetings should not have been closed because the issue is one that has been on county council agendas and members of county council were present and no minutes were kept.

 

According to the report by Amberley Gavel Ltd., county council did violate the Municipal Act, however, investigators do not believe it was done deliberately.

 

“There is no doubt that the DGR issue was a matter that was under consideration, in one way or another, by Bruce County Council, from 2008 to 2013,” Nigel Bellchamber of Amberley Gavel Ltd. stated in the report. “Did members at the CCAG meetings discuss common interests with the view to, or that resulted in, materially advancing the business or decision making of the municipality? There are no “minutes” of the meetings of the CCAG although some notes summarizing attendance and discussions were kept by a representative of OPG.”

 

The report goes on to say that at least one quorum of county council was present at several meetings held between 2009 and 2012.

 

“Based on the notes that we reviewed from OPG and the council and committee minutes, we are of the opinion that the county councillors were as much influenced in their decisions at County Council or in Committee with respect to the DGR project, and probably more, by the discussions that they participated in at the CCAG meetings,” Bellchamber said. “Thus, Amberley Gavel is of the opinion that the Community Consultation Advisory Group (CCAG) meetings between March 2009 and September 18, 2012 were also meetings of Bruce County Council. Since there was no notice of these council meetings given to the public in accordance with the county’s procedure bylaw; no clerk or designate was present to take minutes, nor were any taken; and the public was unaware of and in no case attended any of these meetings; nor was there any resolution to close them, they were clearly in contravention of the open meetings requirements of the Act.”

 

“However, the question needs to be asked, did the members deliberately contravene the

Act? Our conclusion is that they did not. There is no evidence that we can determine that any mayor or county staff member raised the issue with the elected officials that they might be in breach of the Act as county councillors.”

 

Amberley Gavel Ltd. has recommended that councillors be more aware to situations where the Municipal Act could be breached by members of council coming together for occasions other than regular meetings or special meetings of council.