Protocols for BIA In Camera Meetings

Legal and Policy Framework

Statutory Provisions

The holding of closed meetings is set out in the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

  • All meetings of BIA Boards and committees must be open to the public.
  • A meeting may be closed to consider information that falls under a statutory exception.
  • Before holding a closed session, the decision body must state by resolution that it is going to close the meeting and the general nature of the matter to be discussed.
  • No voting may take place during a closed session, except for:
    1. Procedural votes
    2. Giving confidential instructions to staff or agents of the City or local board
  • Minutes of the closed sessions must be taken.

Reasons a Meeting May be Closed:

  1. Security of a BIA’s property.
  2. Personal matters about an identifiable individual, including City or BIA employees.
  3. Labour relations or employee negotiations.
  4. Litigation or potential litigation affecting the BIA.
  5. Receiving advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.


  • Meetings always begin and end in public.
  • Motions to go into closed sessions will contain the following information:
    1. That the meeting is a closed meeting;
    2. The general nature of the matter the BIA Board is considering at the closed meeting; and
    3. The reasons the matter requires a closed meeting.

Municipal Conflict of Interest Act

Under the Act, Members who have declared a conflict of interest on an item must leave during a closed session on that item.

Managing Confidential Information for Closed Meetings

City Council has approved a confidential reporting protocol that includes the following provisions:

  • Reports are public. Confidential information is provided in a confidential attachment.
  • Reports with confidential information must include:
    1. the reason the information is confidential under the City of Toronto Act, 2006
    2. a recommendation stating the date and circumstances when some or all of the confidential information will be made public or the reason why the information must remain confidential.
  • Only the confidential information may be discussed in closed session, not the public report.

Best Practices – Running Closed Sessions of Meetings

Before any meeting

  • Give notice of all meetings, including those to be substantially closed to the public.
  • Hold meetings in public session, unless permitted or required by law to close the meeting.
  • Hold all meetings in publicly accessible locations.

Confidential Reports

  • Confidential information should be added as an attachment to a public report.
  • Ensure confidential attachments do not contain information that must be made public.
  • Adopt a recommendation on the public release of confidential information when considering it.
  • Ensure timely release of the confidential information as promised.
  • Manage the circulation and destruction of confidential documents to prevent improper disclosure.

Before holding a closed session

  • Start and end all meetings in public, even if a substantial portion of the meeting is to be closed.
  • The Committee or Board must adopt a motion to go into closed session.
  • Give as much information as possible about the item in the motion.
  • List the agenda item number and title.
  • State the statutory reason for closing the meeting and how it relates to the item.
  • Be as descriptive as possible without disclosing confidential information.

General format for motions

"I move that the committee recess its public session to meet in closed session to consider [Item #] titled [Title on Agenda], the reason being to [statutory exception permitting the closed session]."

During a closed session

  • The debate should be limited to the confidential information.
  • The Chair should intervene if the discussion drifts into public or unrelated business.
  • Restrict debate to the matter described in the motion requesting the closed session.
  • Do not accept motions other than (a) procedural motions or (b) motions authorizing confidential instructions to staff (no staff should be present - any instructions to be issued after the closed meeting).
  • Do not take straw votes on public motions.
  • Do not let members introduce motions which will be moved in public.
  • Record Minutes.

After a closed session

  • Staff may return as well as any members who had been excluded under conflict.
  • The meeting chair should publicly report on the progress made during the closed meeting, including the following:
    1. Whether the body finished its closed session consideration of the matter(s).
    2. Whether some matters originally listed were not debated.
    3. Which motions giving confidential instructions to staff were passed.
  • Maintain confidentiality about the confidential information until the public release of information is authorized.
  • Prepare confidential Minutes of the closed session and store them in a secure location.
  • Ensure timely release of the confidential information as promised

(Source: City Clerks Secretariat wiki, March 2011)

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