Brudenell Lyndoch and Raglan Township (BLR) has agreed to comply with two recommendations from the Provincial Ombudsman after a complaint of illegal meetings of BLR Council was filed earlier this year, according to records seen by The Current.
Following the Ombudsman’s review, BLR Township agreed to “be vigilant in adhering to their individual and collective obligations to ensure that council complies with its responsibilities under The Municipal Act, 2001” and to “ensure that it exercises its power and authority through a properly passed resolution and confirming municipal by-law as required by The Municipal Act.”
A resident had filed a complaint to the Ombudsman about procedures adopted by BLR Township to appoint a special investigator into allegations of misconduct against BLR Fire Chief, Jordan Genrick. As The Current reported at the time, following consideration of the investigator”s report by council in closed session, Genrick’s suspension from duties was lifted. The contents of the report remain undisclosed despite attempts by The Current and others seeking information about its conclusions.
The Township released emails following a freedom of information request by the resident which led to the complaint. The emails detailed the decision-making between members of Council and staff that occurred outside of the public view between October 11-18th 2019 during the appointment of the investigator.
The complaint which resulted in the Ombudsman’s advice last week to BLR to adopt “best practice” contained the following observation by the complainant:
“Whether the decision to remove discussion of the investigation of the fire chief from public view was done out of a Council being overwhelmed by a crisis, for political reasons to shield the fire chief from public scrutiny, an honest ignorance of best practices or a combination of all elements is a matter of ongoing debate. What is not debatable is that the effect of this behaviour was that the public was kept in the dark.”
The Ombudsman referred BLR to the fact that it had on June 20th this year identified concerns about Pelham Township engaging in email decision-making, advising that Townships act without legal authority when they decide to make certain decisions via email. That report noted that by failing to act through resolution and confirming by-law passed at a properly constituted council meeting, Pelham tried to shield its decision-making process from public scrutiny.