No access to the aqueduct network – Unjustified water tax – Refund of $385 (2016)

Service des finances and Arrondissement de Ville-Marie

Charter File

The plaintiff owns a building located between another building and an alley, without direct access to a public roadway. His building is not connected to the city’s network of aqueducts and sewers. Nevertheless, the City charges him the special water tax on a yearly basis.

The citizen finds this situation unfair. He wishes to have his building connected to the City’s network or failing that, that the City no longer charges him this water tax.

Our enquiry and analysis confirm the following: since the building does not have direct access to a public roadway, the Borough is not obligated to connect it to the municipal aqueduct and sewer network. In fact, such work would prove to be very complex and costly. Nevertheless, we deem it unfair that in such circumstances, a special water tax be levied to this citizen on a yearly basis.

We obtain from the Borough an Attestation confirming that this building is not and will not be serviced by the municipal network; we forward it to the Service des finances. On the basis of this document, the Service des finances modifies the building’s status in its files and confirms that it will no longer be subjected to the special water tax.

At our request, the Service des finances reimburses the citizen the water taxes he paid over the last three years, with interest, an amount totalling close to $385.

City Council and Borough Councils – Question periods – Charter file (2015)

Section 322 of the Cities and Towns Act provides that any person who is present at a Council meeting is allowed to ask questions, in accordance with the applicable rules.  Courts have interpreted this obligation very broadly.

Occasionally, citizens are denied the right to ask a question for the sole reason that they do not reside in the Borough or the City.  Such an approach does not comply with the law.

Whenever we receive complaints of this nature, the OdM takes this opportunity to remind Borough Mayors and the Chairman of City Council of the applicable legislation.  This was the case, in 2015.

Soccer fields (2007)

A soccer league complained to the Ombudsman de Montréal for Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to give it, again, access to soccer fields, for the 2007 season. Following an incident in 2005, this league had had this privilege taken away, upon a recommendation from the SPVM.

Following our intervention, the borough met with the league representatives to discuss the file. However, the meeting aborted when the latters left due to the fact that representatives of Police Station #11 had also been invited.

The borough explained the presence of these police officers by the fact that many of the incidents that had led to the withdrawal of the league’s privileges, in 2005, had required the intervention of police officers from this station. This explanation did not appear unreasonable to us.

Still, the borough accepted to consider the request of this league providing that it formally commits to respect various conditions, the great majority of which are imposed to all leagues requesting access to soccer fields, in this borough. But the borough added two commitments, in order to avoid reoccurrence of the 2005 problematic situation, i.e.:

The borough was thus asking:

  • That the Board of Directors of the league adopts a Resolution confirming its commitment to respect all of the borough’s conditions and that it sends a copy of this Resolution to the borough; and
  • That the league undertakes to provide, during its games, volunteers responsible for ensuring the respect of these conditions and of the municipal regulation, by the players as well as by the spectators, and for keeping contact with the police and/or Ville de Montréal employees: the names of these volunteers had to be confirmed on a list to be given to the borough.

The league considered these requirements to be discriminatory because this sporting association regroups players from the Black community. According to our 2005 and 2007 investigations, however, these requirements were a direct result of real problems that had occurred during many of the games played by this league, which had required police interventions. Park bordering residents had even complained about the inappropriate behaviour of many spectators of these games, to their Borough Council.

Under the circumstances, the Ombudsman de Montréal could not come to the conclusion that the conditions imposed by the borough were biased or constituted illegal discrimination. We informed the league of our conclusion and offered our assistance in its future discussions with the borough to find conditions agreeable to both.