MONTREAL, June 22, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - The number of new complaints
submitted to the office of the Ombudsman de Montréal in 2010 was roughly the same as in 2009. There were 1,444 files in all,
and of these, 67 were related to provisions of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities—a significant increase of 81% compared with the previous year.
The number of files that required a thorough investigation was up
slightly, from 218 to 230. There were two boroughs, Lachine and
Saint-Léonard, in which no thorough investigations had to be conducted
"As we forecast, the number of new complaints received annually by our
office has stabilized at between 1,250 and 1,500, and this has been so
for some years now," the Ombudsman, Ms. Johanne Savard, explained. "What we are seeing, however, is increasingly complex files, which
demand greater expertise and take slightly longer to handle."
She added: "During 2010, our outstanding team was bolstered by the arrival of two
lawyers. Besides assisting in the handling of citizens' complaints,
these professionals have ensured that our office is at last legally
autonomous. Achieving that autonomy had become an urgent need."
The average time for handling files (all types combined) was 5.26
working days, and 91.96% of complainants received a final response
within one month or less. For files that required a thorough
investigation, the average handling time was 28.78 working days.
Notable subjects of complaints concerning the Ville de Montréal
included: social housing, low-rent housing and housing subsidies; the
functioning of the Municipal Court; the behaviour of a municipal
employee; and issues relative to parking, including parking areas
reserved for residents and parking stickers. The three boroughs most
often involved in complaints in 2010 were Plateau-Mont-Royal,
Ville-Marie and Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, three central
boroughs that are all quite densely populated.
Examples of involvement
Following are some examples of situations during 2010 in which the
involvement of the Ombudsman de Montréal changed outcomes:
The Ombudsman found partly in favour of a citizen of
Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles borough who had challenged a
Local Improvement Tax bill for paving and curb fit-up work on his
street. In the course of her investigation, the Ombudsman noted that a
vacant lot with a substantial area had not been taken into account in
the calculation of the tax amount. The impact of this omission on the
amounts levied on neighbouring property owners proved to be of the
order of 20%. As a result, the owners received partial reimbursement of
the amounts they paid in 2010, and their tax bills in subsequent years
will also be reduced accordingly.
Following several complaints from citizens, the Ombudsman observed that
the rules and parameters for transfer of ownership of public alleys to
neighbourhood citizens were not consistently applied across the city's
territory. She worked with the city's Direction des stratégies et des transactions immobilières (DSTI) to establish uniform parameters to be complied with in all
cases. This directive was approved by the Ville de Montréal Executive
Committee in early 2011. From now on, all boroughs entrust management
of such transactions to the DSTI, which systematically applies the new
Following a complaint by a citizen, the Borough of Ville-Marie decided
to amend its Règlement sur le civisme, le respect et la propriété (bylaw concerning civility, respect and cleanliness) to ban waste
collection between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. throughout the borough. As a
result, citizens of this borough will be less inconvenienced by noise
In 2010, the Ombudsman played an active part in the public consultation
on the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities organized by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal. "This consultation provided proof of the marked interest in and
appreciation for the Charter on the part of citizens who know about it," Ms. Savard emphasized. "We were able to sound them out and hear their opinions and
suggestions. It also presented a fine opportunity to respond to several
questions from both participants and the commissioners about the scope
and impact of the Charter as they are felt on a day-to-day level."
In addition, the turnkey project on conciliation, mediation, the role of
the Ombudsman de Montréal and the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, developed jointly by the Centre d'histoire de Montréal, the Ombudsman de Montréal and Jules Patenaude of the Ville de Montréal, continued to be made
available to elementary-school teachers. "To date, 530 students have taken part," Ms. Savard noted. "This has given each of these young people a chance to explore
alternative means of settling conflicts, which they can then apply in
various aspects of their lives. This is something we are really proud
Her office is currently working to upgrade its website and integrate
social media, for example via a blog, expected to be launched in the
fall. "We are very much counting on the accessibility, rapidity and
interactivity offered by social media to bring us closer to citizens
and grow our reputation among a larger audience," the Ombudsman said enthusiastically.
Ms. Savard, appointed in 2003, will begin her third term as Ombudsman of
the Ville de Montréal in the fall of 2011; a few weeks ago, City
Council reiterated its trust in her by voting unanimously to renew her
The Ombudsman de Montréal intervenes as a last resort to ensure that the municipal rights of
citizens are respected and that their cases are treated fairly and with
respect by all municipal entities. This service is completely free of charge and contributes positively to participatory democracy, ethics, fairness
and justice within the Ville de Montréal.
The Ombudsman is also the only recourse available to citizens for
ensuring that the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities is respected by municipal employees and elected officials alike.
A complaint form and the 2010 Annual Report are available on the website
of the Ombudsman de Montréal.
SOURCE OMBUDSMAN DE MONTREAL
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