More than 8,600 people in Sudbury have signed a petition asking city council to reverse its decision to fire the Ontario ombudsman.

Last month, city council voted to replace the ombudsman as its closed door meeting investigator, opting instead for a private firm.

But three councillors, as well as the mayor, voted against the motion.

'This has caused a lot of uproar with a lot of people ...' —Coun. Fabio Belli

The move prompted the Greater Sudbury Taxpayers Association to launch a petition campaign, which garnered thousands of signatures.

"We have to listen to the people in this community," said Coun. Fabio Belli, who voted against firing the ombudsman.

"We were elected by people in this community and, at the end of the day, we have to do what's best for the community. In my mind, I think this has caused a lot of uproar with a lot of people in the community and it just shows by the results we're getting from this petition."

In the past, Belli brought forward a motion at city council to reverse the decision to fire the ombudsman, but it was voted down.

For things to change, a different city councillor would have to bring forward another motion to be voted on again, Belli said.

Sudbury council first appointed the ombudsman as its investigator on Nov. 14, 2007.

Under the 2001 Municipal Act, all municipalities must have an investigator for complaints about closed meetings. By default, it is the ombudsman’s office, but they can also appoint an investigator of their choice.


Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin speaks to reporters in Sudbury after a meeting with Sudbury's council in December of 2012. (Erik White/CBC)

The ombudsman, Andre Marin, is the investigator for 190 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities.

Marin’s office was investigating complaints received by its Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team in late 2012 about closed council meetings that were held by Sudbury’s council in November 2010 and June 2012.

About the time Marin’s fate was being decided by Sudbury’s city council earlier this year, the ombudsman’s office "also received more than 40 complaints in … two days, alleging that councillors met secretly to discuss replacing my office as closed meeting investigator," Marin said in a Feb. 14 press release.