Miscellaneous

Mobile Polling (2017)

Bureau du président d’élection (Service du greffe)

A citizen who recently moved in a seniors long-term care home wishes to register to mobile polling scheduled at her new residence, for the upcoming 2107 municipal election.

To this end, she sends an application to the Election President (who is the City Clerk). Unfortunately, due to an error by Canada Post (returned mail), the Clerk’s office never receives her application.

The citizen’s daughter calls upon the Chief Electoral Officer (Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ)) and the Service du greffe de Montréal. She is told that since the legal deadline has expired, it is no longer possible to add her mother’s name to the mobile polling.

One week before voting day, she seeks the OdM intervention. Her mother insists on exercising her right to vote and her physical condition prevents her from reaching her regular polling station. We begin our negotiations.

The Service du greffe reiterates that the law is strict: there is no way that this lady can register for mobile polling. If the citizen wishes to vote, she will have to show up on voting day at the regular polling station where she is registered (her previous address). If required, accommodations could be put in place to facilitate her access to that polling station.

Considering her condition, travelling on voting day for this citizen is not an option. Hence, our office pursues its negotiations in order to find a solution.

The OdM examines the Act Respecting Elections and Referendums in Municipalities and finds the following provision:

Article 90.5: If, during the election period (…), it comes to the attention of the chief electoral officer that, subsequent to an error, emergency or exceptional circumstance, a provision referred to in section 90.1 does not meet the demands of the resultant situation, the chief electoral officer may adapt the provision in order to achieve its object. ”

In our opinion, the citizen’s situation satisfies this criterion: the strict application of the law does indeed deprive the citizen of her right to vote, which is contrary to the purpose sought by the law.

The OdM engages again with the Service du greffe to discuss ways to apply section 90.5 to this case.

• The Service du greffe deals to that end with the Chief Electoral Officer (Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ)).

• The request is quickly granted by the DGEQ.

The day before voting day, the mobile polling team is dispatched to the citizen’s dwelling so that she can vote on site.

Statements of Offence – Parking – Are Bicycle Paths Open or Closed? – Follow-ups and New File (2017)

Charter File

Our 2016 Annual Report outlined an important file that led to the withdrawal of nearly 250 Parking Tickets issued alongside a bicycle path, when there was confusion as to its opening and closing schedule in winter: this was the North-South path, known as the Boyer Bicycle Path. We had announced that we would pursue our intervention to ensure that the 109 citizens who had already paid their Statement of Offence at the time of the withdrawal would be reimbursed.

New File in 2017

Following a new complaint filed in 2017, the OdM finds out that 17 Statements of Offence had also been issued in the same period (around November 15, 2016) alongside the Mentana/Saint-Grégoire segment of the bicycle path. Our enquiry reveals that there was also confusion as to the opening and closing schedule in winter of this path’s segment.

The City agrees to cancel the 8 Statements of Offence that have been disputed; however, 9 of them had already been paid. We engage in talks with the City to have these Statements of Offence also reimbursed, as with the 109 above-mentioned files.

Reimbursement Procedures

At the end of 2017, the Service des affaires juridiques confirms that the modalities retained for reimbursement will be adopted in 2018. These modalities are complex: they require that the City Council and the Agglomeration Council delegate to Ville de Montréal‘s Executive Committee the authority to reimburse said Statements. The negotiations to this end begin in February 2018. Our office continues to monitor the file.

 

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.