An individual complained to the Ombudsman about a trespass order he received from a small rural municipality after he lost his temper and yelled at a Council meeting. In response, Council discussed the matter privately. It then issued a trespass order, banning the individual from physically attending Council meetings for 60 days.
WHAT DID THE OMBUDSMAN’S OFFICE DO?
After receiving this complaint, the investigator spoke with the individual and explained the Ombudsman’s role and jurisdiction. She shared that while our office cannot investigate Council decisions, including the decision to restrict the complainant, we can consider whether Council moved in and out of the public meeting correctly, if the trespass order was issued in accordance with legislation, and whether the order was administratively fair. The investigator then reviewed the trespass order, the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Trespass to Premises Act, and the municipality’s relevant procedural bylaw.
WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME?
Based on her review, the investigator concluded that Council followed the MGA when it moved in and out of the closed meetings. She determined that Council had the ability to issue the trespass order and restrict the individual from attending meetings in person. She also determined Council followed an administratively fair process and the trespass order was written and delivered according to the relevant legislation.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
While access to local government and participation in public affairs may be considered a democratic right, these rights may sometimes be restricted. For this individual, the outcome was not what he wanted but, importantly, the Ombudsman’s office determined the process was fair to him. The complainant still had the ability to attend meetings virtually and the investigator affirmed what is often our primary question—what do the rules say and did the decision maker follow them?