In 2005, the Ombudsman de Montréal had handled a complaint from a citizen who wanted to force Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles (actual name of the borough) to sell parts of a municipal alley to the bordering citizens. Most of these bordering citizens were illegally encroaching in this alley and had done so, for many years: these encroachments have begun, however, after the City had clearly refused to sell parts of the alley to these citizens.

Following a long investigation, the Ombudsman de Montréal had concluded that these encroachments, with sheds and fences, created a serious problem for the City because the sewage system linked to the bordering houses was located under the said alley and was in a pitiful state. In the event of a breach, the presence of the illegal structures could prevent the City from intervening swiftly. In light of these circumstances, the Ombudsman de Montréal had Recommended to the borough to take appropriate action so as to put an end to these illegal encroachments.

In early 2006, another citizen from the same alley complained to the Ombudsman de Montréal because the sheds and fences still in place were depriving him from access to his backyard, from the alley. The citizen was also worried for security reasons (eventual problems of access for a fire truck, an ambulance, etc.). In light of this new complaint, we intensified our efforts with the borough in order to push for a formal response to our previous Recommendation.

The question was submitted to the Borough Council which, after a long debate, adopted two resolutions: one authorizing the Direction de l’aménagement urbain et des services aux entreprises to issue notices to the concerned residents requiring that they cease their illegal encroachments and restore the area to its initial state (within a reasonable delay); and the second, authorizing the same department to execute the work itself, if citizens failed to do so, at their expense.

We have received confirmation that the alley has been extricated of the illegal encroachments and that the access and safety problems alleged by the citizen have been resolved. Moreover, there are no longer obstacles in the way preventing Ville de Montréal from proceeding quickly and efficiently to maintenance and repair work that might be required on the sewage infrastructures located under this alley, from time to time.

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