The backlash continues today, after four young Hamiltonians were turned away from a City of Hamilton committee meeting yesterday in Niagara on the Lake.
It is blowing up on social media, with a complaint being filed to the Ontario Ombudsman for an investigation. The meeting, was a closed door meeting, attended by council’s steering committee, to interview candidates for the city manager position. the issue was not about not being able to go inside the closed meeting, but rather that the students were not allowed inside for the introduction and adjournment portions of that meeting which by law should be open to the public. Also, another concern, that it was held in Niagara on the Lake. Yesterday in our newscast, we heard from the students, but our calls for reply from the city, went unanswered until today.
John Mascarin has been practicing municipal law for 30 years and says the city was in their rights to hold the interviews for city manager in private. but says members of the public should have never been turned away from attending the beginning and end portions.
The students say hotel staff was instructed to do this and say staff would not tell them where the meeting was being held.
Sam Merulla posted online that he is committed to finding out what happened.
The other issue according to Mascarin, is that according to municipal code, meetings cannot be held outside Hamilton unless it’s an adjacent jurisdiction, which means Niagara on the Lake, does not qualify.
The city has not revealed whether or not these terms were waived in this case.
Several people are claiming they have filed a complaint with the province’s Ombudsman, including the students we spoke to yesterday. we reached out to the Ombudsman’s office today for comment, they told us they cannot comment on specific cases or what’s being investigated. If the Ombudsman does launch an investigation, they say they will let the city know, and will follow up with recommendations from their findings.