MONTREAL, June 16, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Under the theme Transparency and Efficiency – two key values, the Ombudsman de Montréal 2014 Annual Report has just been tabled with City Council. It outlines the many interventions of the Ombudsman's team to help citizens who believe they have been adversely affected by a decision or an omission of Ville de Montréal or one of its related entities.
The Ombudsman de Montréal office handled 1,471 files in 2014, i.e. 123 more than in 2013. 1,409 were new complaints. The team led by Ms Johanne Savard carried out 205 thorough investigations, 143 of which were opened in 2014 and 62, in previous years. The Ombudsman's office issued 5 new Recommendations in 2014: 3 were accepted and 2 were rejected.
"2014 was marked by changes, in our office. We have reviewed our structure, welcomed new employees and modernized our ways. Nonetheless, our commitment to promote accessibility, rigour, respect, empathy and common sense remains omnipresent since these values are conducive to the success of our interventions aimed at finding fair and equitable solutions, for all parties concerned.", pointed out Ms Savard.
In 2014, the average processing time was of 5.5 working days, all files included, and of 82.81 working days for thorough investigations. However, 71 of the 143 investigations opened in 2014 were still in progress, as of December 31st. 35 of the thorough investigations related to the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.
Main topics of complaints
The most frequent complaints involved the functioning of the Municipal Court (81 complaints), the application of municipal By-laws (69 complaints), social housing / HLM / housing subsidies (58 complaints), permits (57 complaints), municipal employees' conduct (54 complaints) and insalubrious housing (54 complaints).
The Central Services most often targeted by a complaint were Cour municipale (110), Service de police (80) and Direction des affaires civiles (54). Among paramunicipal agencies, l'Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal (OMHM) is the one most often concerned (61 complaints in 2014).
As for the Boroughs, the ones most often targeted by a complaint remain the same, from year to year, namely: Le Plateau-Mont-Royal (83 complaints), Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (76 complaints), Ville-Marie (71 complaints), and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie (47 complaints).
Ms Savard underlined, however, that "A high number of complaints does not necessarily show problematic management issues in a Borough or Department. Given their particular clientele and inherent characteristics, some entities are clearly more likely to be the object of a complaint".
A few examples of files settled in 2014:
- Park fees cancelled (around $25,000 per file), in two different files. Furthermore, the Borough voluntarily applied the same conclusions in two other similar files which we had not looked into;
- Assisting a citizen whose renovation work that was underway had been stopped by order of the Borough. An exemption (derogation) was granted, new permits were issued, construction work resumed. The family could finally move into its new home;
- Improvement of safety, nearby a school – Certain commercial activities involving the loading / unloading of large tools frequently encroached on school grounds. The school physically rearranged its premises and the merchant changed his ways of doing things;
- Recurrent problem of unauthorized dumping of garbage causing foul odours for neighbours and cleanliness issues on the street: solutions were found and implemented;
- Controlling access to a school yard, in evenings and on weekends, to limit unauthorized noisy activities. The school's garbage containers that were located near homes (causing foul odours and noise) were also relocated to another spot;
- Improvement of road safety at an intersection, close to a cycling path;
- Access to drinking water was restored in a business that had been without it for several months.
Accessibility and Homelessness
In 2014, the Ombudsman's Office maintained its sustained interest towards the universal accessibility of municipal buildings, information and services. The team pursued its efforts to raise the awareness of City employees and managers towards the challenges of persons living with functional limitations and the impact that the City's decisions can have on their quality of life.
Our Office has increased its efforts to better grasp the various issues surrounding homelessness: we have learned a great deal about this growing phenomenon and the daily challenges faced by persons with no stable home. We make it a duty to share all the pertinent information we gather on this topic with municipal authorities and we salute Ville de Montréal's determination to address this major problem.
A few testimonials from citizens (translations)
"I really enjoyed discussing things with you because I felt supported. My view is that you do a very important job to help people like me who feel like David going up against Goliath." – Mrs L.
"The availability of the Ombudsman's team, its ability to listen and analyze and its expertise in mediation allowed for this matter to be settled […] We want to thank a devoted team that listens to citizens' concerns and whose very valuable work appears essential to us. Thank you." – O. and C.
"Thank you for the tremendous support you provided us with since this whole saga started. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel […] We are more than appreciative of the work that you have done in our file. Without your involvement, we would still be lost in an administrative maze and completely powerless to handle the numerous consequences that kept adding ." – Mr L.
About the Ombudsman de Montréal
Created in 2003, the Ombudsman de Montréal's office is an eight-person team. It intervenes, as a last resort, to ensure that the municipal rights of citizens are respected and that their files are handled with respect, justice and equity by all municipal entities. This service, which is completely free of charge and easily accessible, makes a positive contribution to participatory democracy, ethics, justice and due process within the City of Montreal.
The Ombudsman also offers the only available recourse to ensure that the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities is complied with, by municipal managers and employees as well as by elected officials.
A complaint form, along with the 2014 Annual Report and several complementary charts, are available on the Ombudsman de Montréal website: http://ombudsmandemontreal.com.
SOURCE OMBUDSMAN DE MONTREAL
For further information: Caroline Bergevin, 514 849-4554, [email protected]