Cutting Down a Private Tree – Reimbursement (2018)

Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles

A citizen must cut down a dead tree on his property. He maintains that the tree’s death was caused by public works carried out about 10 years prior. During our inquiry, the tree is cut down by a private company : the citizen pays $1,609.65.

Our inquiry confirms that several roots of the tree were probably damaged in 2006, during City work conducted on nearby underground pipes. This type of tree is of “slow decline.” The Borough accepts our conclusion and reimburses the citizen the $1,609.65 fees.

Cutting Down a Public Tree – Fees (2018)

Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles

The citizen wishes to revamp his vehicular lane and his garage which had been condemned by the former owner. To that end, a public tree located beside the lane must be cut down. The Borough claims $2,599 in compensation fees.

After analysis of the applicable By-law, the OdM concludes that its wording does not allow the billing of such fees in this specific context, i.e. situations where the request to cut down a tree is accessory to an application for a Transformation Permit.

The Borough finally comes to term with our position: no compensation fees will be billed in this instance.

Non-compliant Parking Spaces – Fees (2018)

Arrondissement de Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

The Borough informs a Co-ownership Syndicate that the two parking spaces of the building are non-compliant and must be removed. The building will no longer have parking spaces, as required in the By-law. The Co-ownership Syndicate will have to apply for an exemption and pay a contribution to the Fonds de compensation de stationnement.

Our investigation confirms that these spaces are non-compliant. One of them might have been approved indirectly in 2011, when the Borough had approved certain plans, but this space encroaches on public land: therefore, it must also be removed. The Co-ownership Syndicate will need to apply for an exemption to the By-law regarding parking spaces.

Given the specific circumstances of the file, our office obtains the following results:

The Borough management will recommend to the Borough Council to exempt the Co-ownership Syndicate from having to pay the $3,500 contribution to the Fonds de compensation de stationnement.

  • The Syndicate will pay the study fees for its Demande d’exemption, the publication fees of the relevant notices as well as the removing costs of the existing car ramp.
  • Except for the publication fees ($341), the Borough will apply the 2013 rates: file review ($1,110 instead of $2,123), removal of the car ramp ($2,814 instead of $3,215).


In total, therefore, the Co-ownership Syndicate will pay $4,265 instead of the $9,179 initially expected.

Required Clearance Around a Fire Hydrant – 10 Years of Follow-ups (2018)

In 2008, the OdM conducts a lengthy inquiry and concludes that the five-metre clearance required to park near a fire hydrant is no longer necessary. In fact, the City itself departs from this rule in areas where there is paid on-street parking.

This mandatory clearance, however, is provided for in the Highway Safety Code (HSC). The City undertakes to initiate discussions with the Québec government with a view to amend this provision. Thereafter, the OdM makes occasional follow-ups.

♦  In 2011, Montréal’s Fire Department confirms again that its fire-trucks do not need a five-metre clearance around fire hydrants. The Fire Departments of Longueuil, Québec and Lévis are of the same opinion: their comments are forwarded to the Ministry of Public Security.

♦  Ville de Montréal resumes its discussions with the provincial government.

♦  On December 8, 2017, the Québec government tables a Bill amending the HSC significantly. Notably, the clearance required around fire hydrants is reduced to 3 metres.

This amendment takes effect on May 18, 2018. This file is finally settled.

Own Motion Follow-up – Fire Reports (2018)

Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM)

A Rapport général d’intervention (RGI) is required by insurers to compensate disaster victims. A 2015 OdM inquiry had shown that delays in sending the RGIs were occasionally problematic. The SIM Directors had then taken corrective actions and committed to keep statistics. The OdM wants to ensure that the measures implemented are efficient: we initiate a follow-up in September 2017.

The SIM does not have precise statistical data on the transmission delays of RGIs. However, it estimates that 85% of RGIs are drafted quickly and sent to citizens within 30 days; 15% of files, nevertheless, would be problematic. These long transmission delays would be due mainly to the fact that several management positions are vacant.

After our intervention, the SIM implements the following measures:

♦  Quarterly reminders to stakeholders of the importance of producing and transmitting RGIs within 30 days.

♦  Addition of a performance evaluation criterion related to the transmission delays of RGIs in the Performance Assessment of Managers.

♦  Follow-ups on RGI delays during the statutory meetings between the Director of Operations and fire station Officers.

♦  In cooperation with the Service des relations de travail, drafting an administrative letter for “problem” officers reiterating that they are bound to comply with the RGI directive, subject to sanction.

♦  Creation of a new computerized control tool (Tableau de bord opérationnel) making it possible, among other things, to compile precise data on the transmission delays of RGIs.

The efforts expended to improve transmission delays of RGIs produce conclusive results. As of August 23, 2018, 4.8% of RGIs are not sent within 30 days: that is three times less than the 15% estimated at the start of the inquiry.

Musicians/Public Entertainers – Penalty Imposed – Procedural Fairness (2018)

Arrondissement de Ville-Marie

A group of musicians is sanctioned by the Comité paritaire because its performance on public land would have exceeded the noise limits set forth in the By-law. This group’s permit will not be automatically renewed next year: the group will have to audition to obtain it.

The OdM’s inquiry shows that the process that led to this penalty is not fair.

♦  Those who complained are musicians sitting on the Comité paritaire: they took part in the deliberations concerning this sanction. These persons were not impartial: they could also have influenced other members of the committee.

♦  The letter inviting the musicians to appear before the Comité paritaire did not describe the alleged violation: the musicians could not prepare properly.

The Borough acknowledges that the situation raises concerns :

♦  It reminds all Comité paritaire members that no person involved in a file can take part in the decision-making process related thereto.

♦  Henceforth, the Avis de convocation sent by the Comité paritaire are more precise as to the date, place and details of the alleged violation.

The penalty is cancelled.

Furthermore, the OdM stresses to the Borough that the By-law requirement that an outdoor musical performance must not be heard beyond 25 metres does not seem realistic. The Borough will review its approach in 2019. The OdM will follow-up.

Airbnb: Beware Before Investing! (2017)

Arrondissement de Rosemont−La Petite-Patrie

In two separate files, the Borough denies a Certificate of Usage Compliance (Certificat de conformité d’usage) that would have allowed the two impacted citizens to lease an apartment on a short-term basis, using the Airbnb platform.

In each of these two cases, such a Certificate of Usage Compliance had been issued in the past for another dwelling located in the same building.

Thinking that obtaining a new certificate would not be an issue, each citizen had invested a significant amount of money prior to applying to the Borough.

• In the first case: the new apartment had been fully furnished and decorated;

• In the second case: the owner had sold the dwelling covered by the previous certificate, taking for granted that she would be authorized to lease another apartment in the same building, through Airbnb.

However, the Borough had decided to no longer issue such certificates (Certificats de conformité d’usage), except in some restricted areas.  The citizens requests were hence denied.

After analysis, our office cannot find that the Borough’s new interpretation of its By-law is unreasonable. We do not intervene further. Nonetheless, the Borough confirms that it will not cancel the previously issued certificates.

Cautionary Remark

Before investing in a dwelling with a view to lease it for short-term periods, citizens should first ensure that such use is authorized in their area and that they will be able to obtain the Borough’s required authorizations.

Raising Car Ramps (2017)

Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville – Arrondissement de Montréal-Nord

In several Boroughs, studies conducted prior to road and sidewalk works reveal that some private parking spaces do not comply with the regulation. The Boroughs then notify the owners that their car ramp will be raised when the sidewalk is rebuilt: as a result, they will no longer be able to use the parking space it was serving, sometimes for several years.

In 2017, we handled several complaints from citizens contesting such notice: they were claiming vested rights to maintain this private parking space as well as the car ramp giving access thereto.

Applicable Principles

A car ramp is accessory to a parking area. In order to claim a right to maintain a car ramp, the parking area must comply with the regulation or be protected through vested rights.

• The long forbearance of a non-compliant parking area does not generate vested rights.

• A parking space that does not comply with current regulation will be exempted through vested rights only under proof of the following:

– its lawful existence before the regulation that prohibits it came into effect; and

– its continuous use since.

 Interventions and Analyses

All the parking areas referred to in these complaints were non-compliant with the current regulation. Hence, the specifics of each case had to be analysed to determine whether the space was protected on the basis of vested rights.

• We investigated the previous By-laws governing private parking spaces in the relevant sectors.

• We examined the history of Permits related to each property, the roadwork history nearby and other relevant facts in order to assess the actual or probable implementation date of the targeted private parking space.

• We then determined whether or not the parking area was compliant at the time it was built, or became so thereafter.


In one of the files, substantial evidence showed that the parking area was protected through vested rights. We asked the Borough to restore the car ramp that had since been removed. In January 2018, the Borough confirmed that it would do so within the year.

As for the other files, the targeted parking spaces were never compliant. Therefore, there can be no vested rights for their maintenance nor for the maintenance of the car ramp related thereto. We have closed these files.

Pitbull Dogs: Approximately 150 Complaints (2017)

Service de la concertation des arrondissements

In 2016, we had processed some thirty complaints linked to the new requirements regarding Pitbull dogs. In 2017, we receive approximately 150 additional complaints. As a result, 87 enquiries of complaints plus 1 own motion file were processed.

All complaints disputing the new rules are denied without intervention: these rules were adopted as a result of a political decision and therefore, our office has no jurisdiction.

Our 88 enquiries focus on the fair and equitable application of the rules.

15 Files Linked to the Application of the New By-law

These interventions (14 complaints and one own motion file) led to the following improvements: better access and improved clarity of information on the new rules, namely on Ville de Montréal website and in the Bureaux Accès Montréal (BAM); more standardized procedures to implement the By-law in Boroughs; improved oversight of Animal Controllers by providing them with clearer procedures.

Following the municipal election, the new Executive Committee suspends the application of the rules related to Pitbull dogs. Our office then closes the files that are still pending.

11 Complaints from Citizens whose Situation is Particular

Some owners explain that they were unable to complete in due time all the steps required for purchasing the Temporary Special Permit for various reasons such as hospitalization or other inability to proceed, etc. Other people claim that they had been given incomplete or wrong information as to the documents to be produced before March 31.

Upon examination, we find that 8 of the 11 complaints are founded. The City allows these owners to pursue their dealings in order to obtain their Temporary Permit.

62 Complainants Dispute the Notice Asking Them to Dispose of their Dogs.

Some 600 Pitbull dog owners, including our 62 complainants, receive a letter notifying them that their application for a Special Permit is denied and that they have four weeks to dispose of their dogs.

Our office swiftly adopts a systemic approach to ensure that our interventions benefit all impacted citizens, whether they filed a complaint or not.

All of these citizens have paid the $150 fees, produced proof of identity, residence and pet ownership and obtained a Temporary Special Permit for their dog but other documents required by June 1, 2017 have not all been submitted.

Upon examination, we regroup the files into 4 main categories for the purpose of our discussions with City representatives.

1 – Files without further proceedings

Once they obtained their Temporary Permit, some owners did not proceed further with their case to obtain the official Special Permit. In these cases, the OdM does not plan on intervening.

2 – Files which citizens claim are complete

Some files are compliant in every detail with the City requirements. Denying the Permit is a mistake: the Special Permit is issued. In other cases, the provided documents do not match exactly what the City was hoping to receive. The City shows flexibility: the Special Permit is issued.

3 – Files in which only the Negative Criminal Record Certificate is missing

Several citizens invoke the fact the City requirements were unclear and that the steps required to obtain these documents are complex. Upon examination, it appears that there was, in fact, confusion and that, in several cases, the explanations offered were mistaken or lacked clarity.

4 – Files related to owners who were unable to complete the steps required within the given deadline, for various reasons

All these citizens wish to comply with the regulation. Many plead their financial incapacity to incur all the required expenses (vaccination, micro-chip, sterilization, etc.) in the mandatory period: these fees can reach several hundred dollars.

Regarding the cases described in 3 and 4 above, our office begins talks with the Service de la concertation des arrondissements and the Mayor’s Office. We recommend more flexibility toward the owners who wish to be compliant.

These negotiations are successful: on September 8, the Mayor’s Office notifies us that the June 1 deadline will be deferred to December 21, 2017. This decision is officially sanctioned by the Executive Committee on September 13.

Some 600 impacted owners, therefore, have until December 21, 2017 to complete their Special Permit Application. In the meantime, they can keep their dog.

When the new Executive Council suspends the application of provisions for Pitbull dogs on December 20, 2017, almost all of our 62 complainants had already obtained their Special Permit.

Repairing Damages (2017)

Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transportsDirection des transports

Major aqueduct renovation work was performed by a City contractor in front of a citizen’s residence: her property and garage were damaged.

The contractor redid the citizen’s driveway in a crude way: he refuses to repair the other damages. In spite of the citizen’s repeated requests to the Direction des transports, nothing happens.

Our enquiry confirms that some components have actually been damaged during the works and that the quality of the repairs performed in the driveway is problematic. We notify the Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports.

After acknowledging our findings, the Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports intervenes with the contractor and asks that the situation be resolved. The latter and the citizen agree on work to be performed. The work is completed a few weeks later, to the citizen’s satisfaction.

Publication fees – Absence of Public Notice – Reimbursement (2017)

Arrondissement d’Outremont

The Borough allows a citizen to file an application for a PIIA (Plan d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale) and for a Minor Exemption to the regulation. He is then charged $500 for the publication of a Public Notice in the newspapers.

Upon examination, these applications were never submitted to the Borough Council. Hence, the Public Notice was not published.

Under the circumstances, the OdM gets the Borough to reimburse the $500 amount charged for a publication that never materialized.

Park Fees – Divided Co-ownership (2017)

Arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal

Citizens wish to carry out a cadastral project for one of the two buildings that constitute divided co-ownership. For this project, the Borough claims park fees of approximately $36,000. Despite the fact that only one of the buildings is targeted as part of the cadastral operation, the Borough had based its calculation on the real estate value of the two buildings.

Upon examination of applicable legal rules, our office concludes that the Borough’s valuation is problematic. The Borough disputes our rationale and informs us that it is awaiting a Court decision in a similar case. It therefore rejects our findings. We temporarily suspend our intervention pending this decision.

The Appeal Court subsequently confirms that, in divided co-ownership cases, park fees must be valuated based on the targeted part, and not on the overall co-ownership value.

The Borough agrees to apply these findings to this file: park fees are therefore reduced by half (approximately $18,000 less).

Concurrently, Ville de Montréal decides to standardize the regulation applicable to park fees: these rules would previously vary from one Borough to another.

The new By-law provides for the upcoming abolition of park fees (June 2018) in situations such as our complainants’ case. In light of this information, they decide to defer their project until this new rule is enforced: they will then no longer have to pay any park fees.

Late fees – First Pet Permit (2017)

All Boroughs

The Animal Control By-law and the By-law Concerning Fees state that penalty fees are applied to any domestic pet owner who is late in filing a Pet Permit renewal application. These fees only apply to Permit renewals.

The OdM finds out that in early 2017, some Boroughs have wrongly billed late fees to pet owners applying for a first Pet Permit. We intervene to gauge the extent of the problem.

Our enquiry confirms that over 1,100 applications for a first Pet Permit were mistakenly billed by various Boroughs. Following our intervention, all these citizens received a refund, representing a total of $11,320.

The Borough ends up providing waste collection service – Angus-Axxco Project (2016)

Arrondissement de Rosemont−La Petite-Patrie

Five condominium associations dispute the refusal by the Borough to provide municipal waste collection service in their newly developed area.

The Borough draws on an Agreement reached with the project developer stipulating that the latter would set up reserved and accessible indoor storage areas in order to facilitate the mechanized collection of waste and recyclable material. The Borough alleges that by virtue of this Agreement, the developer was to install compactors: this would necessarily imply relying on private waste collection firms, since the City is not equipped to collect waste from compactors.

However, the plans submitted to and approved by the Borough did not mention waste compactors. The Borough adds that, as part of the conditions to approve these plans, it had required a Letter of engagement from the developer confirming that he would arrange for private waste collection service for each building included in the project.

Following the analysis of relevant documents and applicable regulation, the OdM provides the Borough with various reasons explaining why its refusal to offer this service is unjustified in this case. Among others:

The agreement with the developer addressed the issue of setting up garbage storage areas, and not the collection service.

The plans that were approved by the Borough did not include waste compactors: in fact, such compactors have not been installed.

There is no concluding evidence in the Règlement sur les services de collecte that these condominiums are not entitled to this municipal service: rather, the regulation suggests otherwise.

The Letter of engagement is not enforceable against third parties or legal entities that did not exist at the time (such as the Syndicate of co-owners). If the developer did not respect his undertaking, the Borough could potentially file a claim against him, but the letter cannot justify denying a service that is usually provided to all citizens.

The Borough ends up reviewing its position and agrees to introduce waste collection service in the targeted area, to the condo owners’ delight.

Taxi permit – Renewal – Improved communication of information to drivers (2016)

Bureau du taxi de Montréal (BTM)

The plaintiff’s taxi permit has not been renewed because she had not duly provided the Sûreté du Québec’s Certificat de recherche d’antécédents judiciaires négative, on a timely basis. The citizen complains about the Bureau’s inflexible conditions regarding the management of permit renewals.

Although we are sensitive to the citizen’s arguments, we feel that the BTM’s approach is not unreasonable: the regulation is clear and the mandatory deadline had not been met. In addition, the citizen was slow in taking steps to obtain this certificate.

The BTM nevertheless understands the importance of better informing its members on the fact that they must expect long lead times in order to obtain the Certificat de recherche d’antécédents judiciaires négative. This information has been included in the Renewal Notice (Avis de renouvellement) that they receive.

Fence damaged by a snow-removal truck – Repaired – Requirement to improve procedures (2016)

Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville

A citizen’s fence is damaged by a snow-removal truck: he quickly notifies the Borough. The latter takes several months to answer that it will not repair the fence. Furthermore, the Borough failed to duly notify the citizen of the procedures to follow and deadlines to be met in order to claim financial compensation and protect his rights to judiciary recourse. Indeed, deadlines for litigation against the City are very tight.

Following our intervention, the Borough conducts a site inspection and undertakes to repair the damaged fence. This aspect of the issue is resolved.

We are pursuing our dealings in order to have the Borough improve its response times to the citizens and communicate to them the information related to procedures and deadlines for claims against the City.

Arrondissement de Ville-Marie – Confusing parking signs (2015)

A citizen received a Statement of offence for having parked her vehicle after 3:00 P.M. in a zone where street parking is reserved for residents (SRRR) between “9h–3h”.

She submits that the hours appearing on the parking sign are confusing.  She had understood that the zone was no longer reserved after 3:00 P.M. when, in fact, it was so only after 3:00 A.M.  In other words, vehicles without parking stickers can park in this zone only from 3:00 A.M. until 9:00 A.M.

Certain that she cannot be the only one in this situation, she makes representations to the Borough to try to have the signage modified, unsuccessfully.  She then contacts the OdM.

After a brief analysis, the OdM agrees that the hours showing on the sign (“9h–3h”) are indeed confusing.  We begin discussions with the Borough.

The SPVM is asked to analyse, on a sampling basis, the tickets previously issued in similar circumstances (same kind of tickets in a zone having the same signage, in the same area).  These verifications confirm quite convincingly that these signs are confusing.

Our investigation and visits on site also show that these parking zones are seldom used by drivers not holding a SRRR sticker, when they are not reserved to residents.

Different scenarios are considered to resolve this problem.  At the end, the Borough decides to reserve these zones for residents holding a SRRR sticker at all times, thereby eliminating any risk of confusion.  30 streets are affected by this change.

Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles – An encroachment that did not exist (2015)

Having decided to sell her property, a citizen obtains, in 2014, a new Certificate of location.

The document she receives indicates that part of her house is encroaching on the street.  Yet, the Certificate of location prepared when she had bought this property, in the 70s, did not mention any encroachment.  She contacts the Borough, and later our office, to resolve this situation.

We inquire with the Borough and many central Departments.  An extensive research is conducted by the City.

  • This inquiry shows that in the late 60s, Pointe-aux-Trembles (not part of Montréal at that time) had initiated two expropriation procedures regarding a strip of land on Bureau Street, in front of the citizen’s property; and another strip of land located behind her property, on Marion Street.


  • It also reveals that many mistakes were committed at different levels, in the course of these procedures.


  • At the time, a municipal expropriation began with the publication of an Homologation plan in the Registre foncier, kind of a prior notice confirming the municipality’s intent to expropriate. This publication had been made for the two strips of land mentioned above.


  • The expropriation process was later completed for the strip of land on Marion Street, but never for the strip of land on Bureau Street.


  • A judgment ratifying the expropriation indemnity was registered in the Registre foncier. This judgment, however, did not specify that the strip of land concerned was the one on Marion Street.


  • Moreover, the Release, which was also registered, referred mistakenly to the Homologation plan concerning Bureau Street, even though the plan to expropriate that strip of land had been cancelled.


  • To add to the confusion, the information appearing in the City’s Registre du domaine public was also wrong. The Cadastre shows a small strip of land in front of the plaintiff’s property as part of the public domain and the strip on Marion Street, as part of the citizen’s private property when, in fact, it is part of the street.


Several solutions were examined in order to rectify the situation resulting from this long succession of errors.

In light of the research efforts already deployed by the City to see clearly in this file, the existence of erroneous data in the Registre du domaine public and the City’s interest in clarifying its own titles for the strip of land on Marion Street, the OdM suggests that the City takes charge of the cadastral operations and prepares the legal documentation required to regulate the situation.  The City agrees.  These procedures are on track to be completed.

Arrondissement de Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc–Extension – Eviction – Furniture stored by the Borough – Citizen incarcerated – Risk of destruction – The citizen retrieves his belongings (2015)

When a citizen is evicted from his dwelling, his furniture and other personal effects are put on the street by a Bailiff.  The Borough then takes charge of these goods for a period of 60 days.  If they are not retrieved during that period, they are generally destroyed.

In this file, the citizen was incarcerated and had, therefore, been unable to recover his belongings, before the deadline.

The OdM contacted the Borough which accepted to extend the storage period for a few days.  This extension allowed the citizen to retrieve his furniture and other belongings, with the help of a person mandated by proxy.

Arrondissement de Saint-Laurent – Place of worship – Amendment to the Bylaw (2015)

The Borough was demanding the closure of a place of worship established for many years, in a zone where this type of activity was not permitted.  The leaders of the association managing this place sought our intervention.  They were asking that the Borough modify its zoning rules for this place of worship to be allowed to continue its activities, in the same location.

It is not up to the Ombudsman to decide which amendments should or could be made to zoning regulations.  This jurisdiction lies with the Borough Councils.  We informed the plaintiffs accordingly and closed our file.

However, the Borough’s elected officials later announced their intent to expand the zones in which places of worship would be permitted, namely on the second floors in some commercial areas.  These regulatory amendments would regularize the situation of the place of worship which had complained to our office.

Since our office often handles complaints regarding problems of cohabitation between residences, businesses, institutions and places of worship, we deemed it appropriate to submit comments to the Borough administration and elected officials so as to provide additional input and remind them of undertakings contained in the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.

More particularly, we raised awareness on the importance of planning reasonable guidelines and specific rules to ensure the safety of the premises, the cleanliness of the area, the adequate management of possible nuisances (noise, traffic, parking), thereby promoting harmony among all citizens.  The Borough welcomed our comments.

Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM) – Delays that penalize fire victims (2015)

When there is a fire, Insurance companies require that the insurees provide them with a report filled out by the Fire Department, before compensation is paid.  At the SIM, this form is called the Rapport général d’intervention (RGI).

The OdM heard that some citizens were unable to obtain their RGI within a reasonable time lapse, in order to be compensated.  We had handled a similar problem a few years ago.  We investigated once more.

Our investigation confirmed that the delays before the SIM forwarded the RGI to citizens were often problematic and could penalize the victims.  The SIM acknowledged the problem.  It reminded its managers the importance of completing the RGI and insisted that they be sent to victims quickly.

In the OdM’s view, a three week maximum delay for the transmission of these reports would be reasonable.  The SIM pledged to take all required steps towards such a result.  Our office will follow up in 2016.

Storage of furniture and personnal goods following an eviction – Resident whose nam does not appear on the lease (2014)

In Arrondissement de Ville-Marie, when a tenant is evicted following a judgment, all the furniture and personal goods that remain in his/her dwelling are taken out, then collected and stored by the Borough. The tenant has 60 days to retrieve them, failing which they are destroyed.  One of the conditions to claim the household goods is to be the tenant whose name is written on the lease.

Occasionally, things belonging to a roommate whose name does not show on the lease are stored with such a lot, but this person cannot claim his/her goods back.  Following our discussions, Arrondissement de Ville-Marie adopted a new procedure to improve things for these third parties, all the while limiting the financial impact on the Borough.

Henceforth, if a person whose name is not written on a lease claims to own some of the stored belongings, the Borough will immediately notify the storage company.  Subsequently, the company must offer this third party the possibility of retrieving his/her goods, as soon as the official tenant signs a release or at the end of the 60-day legal storage period.  A delay of one week is then given to the unofficial tenant to retrieve his/her goods, after which they will be destroyed, in conformity with the usual procedure.

Should many third parties claim ownership of the same property, it will be their responsibility to provide the Borough with sufficient proof of ownership.  Failure to do so will result in the property being destroyed.

A private business is deprived of access to water for many months – The business owner is complaining of the Borough’s inaction (2014)

Following work started on the upper floors of the building where a business is located, in Arrondissement de Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie, the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM) had deemed that there was a risk of flooding.  Therefore, it had ordered the shutdown of all the building’s water accesses.  This situation had been going on for many months and the business owner was complaining of the Borough’s inaction.  Through our intervention, we got the Borough to intensify its follow-ups and got the SIM to conduct a new inspection.  The owner of the building finally completed some urgent work.  The access to water was re-established.


A Borough issues a statement of offence while we investigate (2013)

It is common practice, when the OdM investigates a file, that Boroughs suspend their penalty procedures pending our intervention or, at the very least, inform us before they issue new statements of offence when the urgency of the situation requires it. This year, however, much to our surprise, Arrondissement de Verdun decided to issue a statement of offence to one of our complainant while his file was still under study.

The citizen was in the process of resolving a situation of illegal encroachment on the public domain which had existed for more than a year. Had we been notified of the Borough’s intention to issue a statement of offence, we would have discussed with the Borough to try and agree on a deadline for the citizen to complete his procedures.

We were surprised and disappointed of the Borough’s way of proceeding and notified the director accordingly.

Damaged landscaping during municipal works – The borough compensated the citizens (2011)

Citizens’ landscaping suffered substantial damages during works on the aqueduct system.

The owners submit that, at the time, an employee of Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce had assured them that their property would be repaired by the borough. After many months of follow-ups, however, the borough told them to do the repairs themselves and to subsequently submit a claim to the City, which they did.

The Bureau des réclamations (Claims office), rejected the claim because it had been submitted after the expiry of the time limit: the delays for suing the City are, indeed, very short. This right to sue had already expired when the citizens received the information that they had to do the work themselves and then, submit their claim.

Our investigation revealed that shortly after the completion of the municipal works, the borough adopted a new procedure in virtue of which citizens are now systematically informed, in writing, of the procedure to follow, if their property is damaged during City works. The new documents clearly states that the City will not do the repairs and that citizens must submit a claim to Ville de Montréal’s Claims office with an estimate of the costs, within 15 working days following the date on which the damages were caused.

However, this policy was not in effect at the time of events. Moreover, in the present case, the plaintiffs’ version of events appeared credible, both to the OdM and to the borough.

The borough accepted, therefore, to compensate these citizens. Which was done, to their satisfaction.

Destruction of personal property stored by the City – Compensation and new procedure (2011)

At the time of a citizen’s eviction by a bailiff, Arrondissement de Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve took over her furniture and personal belongings.

The same day, this citizen was admitted to the hospital: she was, therefore, unable to deal with the recovery of her stored property. Near the end of the usual storage period, a social worker from the hospital contacted the borough to ask for an extension of this period. However, her message remained unanswered and the citizen’s property was destroyed.

During our investigation, it was impossible to determine accurately what really happened. The borough recognized, however, having received a voice mail message from the social worker.

It also agreed that there was reason to modify its procedure: from this moment on, every time a request is submitted in the days prior to the expiration of the storage period of an evicted person’s property, the borough immediately informs the storage facility not to dispose or destroy this property. This should prevent a reoccurrence of situations such as the plaintiff’s.

In the present case, the citizen claimed a financial compensation for the loss of her property: we put her in contact with the Bureau des réclamations (Claims Office) which, after analysis, offered compensation.

Denial of a street address for a studio – The borough reconsiders its interpretation (2011)

A citizen is complaining of the refusal of Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville to grant him a street address for a studio apartment he set up in his home’s basement, for the purpose of renting it.

The borough refused this request because the citizen’s property does not offer enough space to create an additional parking space.

Following our intervention, the borough reviewed the file, revised its interpretation of its regulations and concluded that the citizen could set up a dwelling in his residence’s basement, without having to add a new parking space.

A Transformation permit was therefore issued for this studio apartment and the citizen was also granted a street address.

City phone calls, from a number where the call cannot be returned (2010)

For many weeks, a citizen’s phone caller ID indicated that, in his absence, he had received numerous calls from a phone number identified as Ville de Montréal. This citizen worried about the reason for these repeated calls but, when he would dial the number shown on the caller ID, the line was always busy. He had tried to find the origin of the calls, but in vain.

We launched an investigation with the Service des immeubles et des systèmes d’information which confirmed that this phone number was linked to a line of automated calls from the library network which cannot receive any call.

We questioned the appropriateness of having a phone number showing up on citizens’ phones, with the indication that it is a Ville de Montréal number, if it is impossible for them to return the call at that number.

Following our intervention, modifications were requested so that these phone numbers be henceforth blocked off. The Service des immeubles et des systèmes d’information also suggested replacing the Ville de Montréal ID that appeared with the number, by a more specific ID allowing citizens to know which City Department actually called them: more specifically, in the present file, this ID could be replaced by “VDM_BIBLIO”.

This phone system was modified in 2012. Now, when a citizen receives a call from this automated call system of Ville de Montréal’s library network, the word “BiblioMontréal” appears on the recipient’s phone as well as the following number: 514 872-0535. If the citizen calls back, an automated message states in French and in English that the library network called because the return date of a book or document has expired. This is a significant improvement and we are quite satisfied with efforts made by Ville de Montréal in this file.

Recommendations denied – Reduction of storage fees – Furniture and personal belongings of evicted citizens (2010)

The City takes charge, for a short period of time, of the furniture and personal belongings of Montréal citizens who are evicted from their dwelling and whose property is “put out on the street”. In many instances, fees will be charged to the citizens to retrieve their belongings: these fees can be substantial.

Since the creation of our office, we have sometimes recommended the reduction of the fees normally claimed, in order for the citizens to be able to retrieve their belongings. Such recommendations are only issued if, after a thorough investigation of the specific circumstances of a case, we believe that the personal situation of the citizen justifies a reduction of these fees, on an exceptional and humanitarian basis.

Until December 2008, most of these cases were managed by a Central Department which always accepted our recommendations.

Since January 2009, however, this Central Department no longer exists and boroughs took over this responsibility. Some of them have adopted a By-Law in which they defined the rates that will apply.

In 2010, 3 of the 19 boroughs i.e.: Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, Arrondissement de Ville-Marie and Arrondissement de Verdun have denied our recommendations to reduce the fees charged to a citizen, because of their By-Law. This situation is of concern to us.

It is, indeed, regrettable that, within the same City, citizens of 3 boroughs only no longer have the opportunity to obtain a fee reduction, even when their personal situation would justify it, on humanitarian grounds.

We have discussed the issue with the Direction générale of Ville de Montréal and have solicited a better collaboration of the concerned boroughs.

Arrondissement de Ville-Marie and Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles have since modified their regulation.

As for Arrondissement de Verdun, it maintains its position to deny any fee reduction request.

Parking agents (SPVM) – Parking stickers falling out – Statements of offence withdrawn (2015)

Many citizens contacted us to complain of similar situations.  They had a valid sticker allowing them to park in a specific SRRR zone (street parking reserved for residents) but had, nonetheless, received a Statement of offence.  Unfortunately, their stickers had fallen from their vehicles.

Despite the evidence they had submitted in support of their non-guilty plea, their files were sent by the Municipal Court administration to be heard before a judge:  they would, therefore, have to go to the Court to present their arguments.

They found it unfair to be submitted to this constraining procedure for Statements of offence which were clearly not justified.  They asked our office to look into the matter and see how these statements could be cancelled, without them having to go to Court.

Our investigation confirmed that many SRRR stickers sold to citizens, in 2015, were defective and detaching from the vehicles.  As a result, many Statements of offence were issued to citizens parked in their SRRR zones, most of them for being parked there “without a sticker”.

When the SPVM was made aware of this problem, it acted quickly to stop the issuance of new statements, in similar circumstances.  The Municipal Court was also informed of the situation.

In the case of Statements of offence issued for having parked in a SRRR zone “without a sticker”:  if the citizen provided evidence that he held a valid sticker on the date of the offence, the file was closed at the stage of administrative review.

In the case of our plaintiffs, however, their explanations had not been retained and their files had not been closed.

We noted that, in these instances, the offence was different:  it did not refer to parking “without a sticker” but rather “with an expired or revoked permit”.

As it turned out, these citizens had stuck their new sticker on their vehicle without removing the old one.  When the new sticker got detached, therefore, the expired sticker was the one that showed.

We found it unfair that these files were not also closed if proof was provided showing that the citizen had a valid sticker, on the date of the offence.  We discussed this new situation with the SPVM.  The SPVM agreed that these statements for parking “with an expired or revoked permit” should also be withdrawn.

The SPVM prepared a “Request to withdraw the Statement of offence” for each of the 11 such files.  The Municipal Court officially closed them all, at the beginning of 2016.