MONTRÉAL, May 17, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - The Ombudsman de Montréal, Me Nadine Mailloux, today tabled her annual report for the year 2020 to City Council. Presented under the theme Here for you, the report shows a record number of complaints with 2,150 files handled, including 498 new investigations, 20 of which were initiated by the OdM, compared with 1,966 files handled in 2019.
"The past year was marked by our enquiry into the summer urban development projects, which alone accounted for some 300 complaints, but also by a wide range of complaint topics. The majority of new enquiries, 316 out of 498, concerned commitments under the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, which has guided our work since its creation in January 2006," explains Me Mailloux, who was appointed to her position last August.
Discrimination and exclusion
"In this regard, we intend to intensify our efforts with partners and communities to reiterate our jurisdiction in matters of discrimination and exclusion, two fundamental principles of the Charter. We want to reach out to citizens who may be experiencing such situations so that they can confidently access our services and understand that we are here to help them. The theme of our 2020 report: Here for you, is specifically aimed at these people," adds Me Mailloux.
Main complaint topics
The 1,992 files opened in 2020 involved some 30 different topics. Of these, the main concerns were: Public Works (239); Citizen Services (188); Zoning and Urban Planning (154); Nuisances (107); Trees, Community Gardens and Parks (102); and Parking and Drop Off Zones (83). In total, three files were the subject of 19 recommendations, including one involving more than 300 people.
Listening carefully to people's problems
The diversity of the cases dealt with is just as revealing as the number of topics tackled and shows that citizens have found someone who will listen to their problems, most of the time, with a favourable outcome.
Occupation of the public domain
The OdM dealt with three cases relating to the application of occupation of the public domain regulations. One of them concerned the owner of a century-old building who was being charged by his borough for occupying the public domain. Since its construction, certain structures essential to the use of the building encroached on the public domain, even though they complied with the regulations of the time. The two recommendations made by the Ombudsman led the borough to modify its regulations and to reimburse the fees paid to date by the citizen.
Safety and accessibility
Among the cases dealt with was that of a wheelchair-bound citizen who was unhappy that outdoor walkways surrounding her home, located in a housing complex, were not being adequately cleared of snow and ice. She feared for her safety. Her initial approaches to the OdM in 2019 were successful, but the problem was repeated in 2020. The OdM then intervened with the Office municipal d 'habitation de Montréal, which showed considerable openness and cooperation and ensured that effective snow removal measures were put in place to allow the woman to move around safely.
$750,000 issued to taxpayers
It should also be mentioned that the OdM intervened with the Services de finances to reactivate a policy for following up on expired tax refund cheques, which was interrupted in 2015. This process, which began in 2007 following an initiative by the OdM, was intended to find citizens and legal entities that had not cashed a tax refund cheque for at least $50 and to issue a new cheque. In 2019 and 2020, the Service des finances processed 744 expired cheques and issued a total of approximately $750,000 to Montréal taxpayers.
About the OdM
The OdM intervenes on the basis of complaints or on its own initiative to ensure that citizens' civic rights are respected and that their files are treated with respect, justice, fairness and goodwill by all municipal stakeholders. The OdM also provides the only available recourse to ensure compliance with the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. The OdM uses every intervention as an occasion to promote a culture based on quality of services, greater transparency and fair and just decision-making processes.
Since the 2003 creation of the office, the OdM has handled more than 25,380 files and conducted more than 4,000 enquiries. Having recourse to the OdM is free of charge and easily accessible. OdM's annual reports are available on the website.
SOURCE OMBUDSMAN DE MONTREAL
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