Lobbying in Niagara
The Lobbyist Registry is a public record of all individuals or organizations who have lobbied a public office holder at Niagara Region. The searchable database contains communication records, such as telephone calls, meetings or emails between those who lobby and members of Regional Council or Regional staff.
Search the Lobbyist Registry to learn about the lobbying activities at Niagara Region.
Regional Council approved Lobbyist Registry By-law 2022-24 to establish a Lobbyist Registry on April 14, 2022. Since this is a new requirement, there will be a six month educational period where penalties and sanctions will not be applied.
Register as a Lobbyist
Lobbyists must register lobbying activities within five business days of the first communication, or before lobbying starts. Registration is free.
Lobbyists must also update their registration if there are any changes or additions.
Lobbyist activity and registration information
Lobbyist activity is any substantive form of communication, including a formal meeting, email, letter, phone call or meaningful dialogue or exchange that materially advances a matter that is defined as lobbying, whether in a formal or an informal setting.
If you are an individual who is paid or represents a business or financial interest and are communicating with a public officer holder with the goal of trying to influence any legislative action including development, introduction, passage, defeat, amendment or repeal of a by-law, motion, resolution or the outcome of a decision on any matter before Council or a Committee of Council, or Councillor or staff member acting under delegated authority, then you are required to register your activity with the Lobbyist Registry.
Public office holders
- Member of Regional Council
- Officer or employee of Niagara Region
- Member of a local board or committee established by Council
- Any accountability officer appointed under the Municipal Act, 2001, including, but not limited to the Integrity Commissioner, the Lobbyist Registrar, Ombudsman and / or Closed Meeting Investigator
- Individuals under contract with the Region providing consulting or other advisory services to the Region related to matters with budgetary or operational impacts during the term of their contract
Types of lobbyists
The registry identifies three types of lobbyists:
- A consultant lobbyist who lobbies for payment on behalf of a client
- An in-house lobbyist who is an employee, partner, or sole proprietor and who lobbies on behalf of their own employer, business or other entity
- A voluntary unpaid lobbyist who lobbies without payment on behalf of an individual, business or any other for-profit entity for the benefit of the interests of the individual, business, or for-profit entity
- Not-for-profit organizations with paid staff are also required to register any communications that fall under the definition of lobbying
Unfortunately, the Lobbyist Registry has limited flexibility at this time. If you qualify as more than one type of lobbyist, you will have to submit a form for each separate type of lobbyist.
Persons and organizations not considered lobbyists
The following persons and organizations shall not be considered lobbyists when acting in their public capacity:
- Government or public sector not including the Region and other municipal bodies:
- Members of the Senate or House of Commons of Canada, the legislative assembly of a province, the council or legislative assembly of a territory, or persons on the staff of the members
- Members of a First Nation council as defined in the Indian Act or of the council of an Indian band established by an Act of the Parliament of Canada, or persons on the staff of the members
- Employees or consultants retained by the Government of Canada, the government of a province or territory, a First Nation council, a federal or provincial crown corporation or other federal or provincial public agency
- Members of a council or other statutory body, including a local board, charged with the administration of the civil or municipal affairs of a municipality in Canada other than the Region, persons on staff of the members, or officers or employees of the Region or local board
- Members of a national or sub-national foreign government, persons on the staff of the members, or officers, employees, diplomatic agents, consular officers or official representatives in Canada of the government
- Officials and employees of the Region and other municipal bodies:
- Public office holders
- Members or employees of a local board of the Region
- Members of an advisory committee appointed by Council
- Other public sector:
- Persons communicating on behalf of local school boards
- Persons communicating on behalf of healthcare institutions
For more information on who is exempt from registering, see the Lobbyist Registry By-law 2022-24.
Registering as a lobbyist
When registering as a lobbyist, you will need to identify your name and business address as well as the category of lobbyist you fall under. If you are working on behalf of a client, you will identify the client name and address. You must declare whether or not you have ever held a position with Niagara Region.
When submitting your lobbying activity, you will be required to identify the subject matter, such as Development Charges By-law.
When disclosing your activity, you will include the person you lobbied, how you lobbied, such as email, the date of the activity (or the time period the lobbying will take place), and a brief description of your communication.
There is no cost to register as a lobbyist.
If you submit information in error, contact the Regional Clerk.
Activities to disclose and not disclose
Activities you need to disclose
Lobbying activity covers “substantive” forms of communication including a formal meeting, e-mail, letter, or phone call. Also included is any meaningful dialogue or exchange whether in a formal or in an informal setting. This would include conversations at a social event (e.g. golf tournament) that constitutes lobbying and aims to influence a legislative action.
Activities that don't need to be disclosed
Most interactions you have with Regional staff and / or members of Council will not need to be registered. This includes:
- Speaking on the public record during a meeting of Council, a Committee of Council, or local board of the Region
- Any communication that occurs during a public process such as a public meeting, hearing, consultation, open house or media event held or sponsored by the Region or a public office holder or related to an application
- If the communication is restricted to a request for information
- Any communication about the enforcement, interpretation or application of any Act or by-law except for the Region's Procurement By-law
- Communication is part of a normal approval process
- Any communication regarding a business or financial interest by not-for-profit entity where such entity has no paid staff
- Providing compliments or complaints about a Regional service or program
- Advocacy activities, which are generally carried out by community groups and associations and are communications that state a position for a general community benefit, either Region-wide or local
If a member of Council approached you and is seeking information from you, you don't have to register this communication.
If Niagara Region has invited you to participate in a stakeholder relations session, it doesn't need to be registered. Any communication surrounding your role as a stakeholder is not considering lobbying.
If the same topic occurs multiple times or over an extended period of time
You're able to include a date range for a maximum period of one year if your lobbying will be ongoing. You only need to register the first communication or discussion you have.
For example, if you have an extended email thread about the same topic, you only have to submit that email exchange once, on the date the exchange began. However, if the topic changes during the course of the exchange, you're required to register the new topic.
Reasons to contact the Regional Clerk
Contact the Regional Clerk if:
- Your communication concerns proprietary information. Contact the clerk before registering your file or activity.
- Your lobbying file does not clearly fall under one of the provided subject matter categories
- You are unclear if the encounter qualifies as lobbying
- You submitted an error when registering
Enforcement of the registry
The Lobbyist Registrar is an accountability officer whose powers and duties are set out in the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Lobbyist Registry By-law 2022-24. The Lobbyist Registrar enforces the Lobbyist Registry and the Lobbyist Code of Conduct.
The Registrar has the power to investigate complaints and to impose sanctions if lobbying activity has not been disclosed, or if an individual has contravened the Lobbyist Code of Conduct. Should the registrar impose a sanction, it will be in the form of a temporary ban on communication. Notice of the temporary ban will be circulated to members of Council and Regional staff and posted on the Region's website.
If the Lobbyist Registrar finds that the requirements of the Lobbyist Registry By-law and / or Lobbyist Code of Conduct have not been met, a ban on lobbying may be imposed:
- For a first breach, the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for 30 days
- For a second breach, the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for 60 days
- In the event of a third breach, the registrar has the discretion to determine an appropriate sanction
Members of Council and Regional staff are bound by their respective codes of conduct to refrain from communicating with individuals who have been found in contravention of the Lobbyist Registry By-law.