Press Release: Marineland Animal Defense Files Ombudsman Complaint Against Niagara Falls City Council
For Immediate Release
October 23, 2014
Niagara Falls, CANADA – This morning Marineland Animal Defense filed a “Closed Meeting Complaint” with the Ontario Ombudsman that centres on the role that closed meetings from August 2011 to May 2012 played in the leasing of public lands to Marineland Canada (June 2012 / August 2013). Those meetings, of which it appears there were at least three, were attended in whole or part by Councillor Wayne Thomson, City Clerk Dean Iorfida, Mayor Jim Diodati, Numerous City Staff, Niagara Regional Police and Marineland Canada. References to those meetings obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests suggest that at these closed meetings City Staff, the Mayor, Councillors and Marineland Canada strategized ways in which to criminalize or remove demonstrators from public property out front of the Marineland Canada facility. Those initial meetings predated the official notice for land lease in June 2012 by almost a year and it was not until May 2012 that City Clerk Dean Iorfida began to reach out to the Niagara Regional Police looking for justifications for the land leases that came out of closed meetings months prior – “To attempt to justify this lease, we need to demonstrate that there are safety concerns.”
Throughout, the Mayor’s Office and the City Clerk controlled and decided who would be brought into these closed meetings and after years of repeated asks for meeting notes and for the City to discontinue the practice of closed meetings, this Ombudsman Complaint is the next step in ensuring that the Niagara Falls City Council follows the Municipal Act and stops concocting land leases in private.
The full Complaint filed this morning can be found here. It contains the FOIA emails referenced in the complaint as well email correspondence from City Clerk Dean Iorfida refusing to disclose private meeting notes, refusing to discontinue to practice and a claim that these meetings are exempt from the Municipal Act as they were arranged by Marineland Canda, with the Mayor and without the presence of all on Council.
Marineland Animal Defense spokesperson Dylan Powell believes filing this complaint will bring change in how the City treats demonstrators who oppose Marineland Canada, “We have tried for years to rectify this problem directly with the City and met a wall. We hope filing this complaint brings the pressure necessary to give this the coverage it deserves and also to spur the kind of internal change we want to see from the City of Niagara Falls moving forward. If the Ombudsman agrees with the complaint it will also call into question the legal standing of those previous land leases which are soon up for renewal. With a new Council coming in shortly we hope that this complaint can close the chapter on the previous era and restore the rights of demonstrators to assemble on public property and have access to a fair, transparent, and responsible Municipal Council.”
For more background on the history of the relationship between Marineland Animal Defense and Niagara Falls City Council (2010-2014) – http://marinelandanimaldefense.com/2014/10/07/marineland-and-the-municipal-election-the-whale-in-the-tank-or-niagara-falls-inconvenient-truth/
Photo Attached for Use: Credit Brianna Bell