Quality of services

Longs Delays – Compliance Inspection of Construction Work (2017)

Charter File

Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

While processing a previous file, the OdM is surprised by the five-year delay between the end of a property’s transformation work in accordance with a duly issued Permit, and the final compliance inspection.

Our office undertakes an enquiry in order to understand the context for this delay and explore the relevance of clearer rules, to ensure stricter follow-ups.

The Borough explains that during a certain period, its inspectors had to prioritize interventions related to insalubrious dwellings: hence, several inspections regarding construction or transformation work had been put aside. The Borough has since put things right: the backlog of regular inspections files has almost all been resolved.

Following our intervention:

– The Borough has adopted and published a clear standard confirming that the compliance inspection should usually be conducted within six months of the work completion and within one year, at the latest. The Borough acknowledges that longer delays are unreasonable.

– The Borough reminded the Department Managers the importance of complying with this new standard regarding final inspection delays.

– Compliance with this standard will be part of the indicators for these Managers when their performance is reviewed in 2018.


Delays in processing applications for demolition and construction permit – Follow-up on previous commitment – Respected (2016)

Arrondissement de Rosemont−La Petite-Patrie

Charter file

In our 2015 Annual Report, we chronicled this Borough’s issues related to service quality and undue delays in processing demolition/construction permit applications. At the time, the Borough committed to taking measures to enhance the targeted services’ performance and to reduce turnaround times for issuing permits. The OdM followed up.

To accomplish this, the Borough has namely:

Merged the Division des permis et des inspections (Inspection and Permit Division) with the Division de l’urbanisme (Urban Planning Division);

Restructured the new entity to ensure greater cohesion in processing applications;

Abolished the scheduling of mandatory appointments for requesting 10 types of permits (this rule will gradually apply to all types of permits);

Implemented various measures designed to ensure more efficient processing of applications for demolition permits and for Plans d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale (PIIA).

The Borough confirms that its efforts have paid off. There was a marked reduction in turnaround times (demolition permits, PIIA and new construction permits) and a significant decline in the number of pending files: great news for the owners in the Borough.

Arrondissement de Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie – Application for a Demolition permit and a Construction permit – Delays and complications – A long saga – Charter file (2015)

In the summer of 2014, citizens bought, via their small construction business, a “shoebox” type property which they planned to replace with a building containing four condo units of three bedrooms each, for families.

In December 2014, after many discussions with the Borough’s architect and an employee from the permit office, the citizens apply for a Demolition permit.

In May 2015, nearly six months later, no “agent du cadre bâti” has been assigned to process this application.  Discouraged by the delays, the citizens send a default letter to the Borough and turn to our office.

We quickly begin discussions with the Borough and pursue them all summer long.  We ask:

  • That a clear timetable be established for the citizens and the Borough’s next steps; and
  • That the Borough proceeds to the preliminary analysis of regulatory compliance of the application, including the architectural review of the replacement project.

In July 2015, the citizens file their official application for a Construction permit and pay the file analysis fees:  most of the documents required at that time were already in the Borough’s file, but they have to be submitted again.

On August 12, 2014, the file is presented to the Comité de démolition (Demolition Committee) which rejects the Demolition permit, without explanation and despite the favourable conditional recommendation of the Direction du développement du territoire et des études techniques (DDTET).

The citizens appeal this decision to the Borough Council.

The OdM deems it important to communicate to the Borough Council members some information likely to enhance their comprehension of the file and to contribute to their analysis, before they make a decision.  Namely, we submit that:

  • Although it is legitimate for a Borough to change its approach and ways in order to better preserve certain types of constructions, it appears questionable that such new rules be applied to files already underway and in regard to which citizens have spent many months to make their applications complete, in collaboration with the Borough.


  • If a Borough wishes to change the rules in force, in order to protect certain types of buildings, it would be desirable that it does so through amendments of its regulations so as to ensure that the rules are clear, for all citizens.


On October 5, 2015, the Borough Council authorizes the demolition of the building, by unanimous Resolution.  The Council adds that the replacement project must satisfy the conditions previously stated by the DDTET.

On October 14, 2015, the project is submitted without modification, to the Urban Planning Committee (Comité consultatif d’urbanisme (CCU)).  The CCU concludes that the objectives and criteria of the Plan d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale (PIIA) adopted by virtue of the Règlement d’urbanisme (Planning regulations) are not satisfied.  It reiterates, therefore, the conditions stated by the DDTET, in August 2015.

The parties initiate discussions to determine which modifications should be brought to the project, to comply with the PIIA.

On December 9, 2015, an amended project is submitted to the CCU which issues a favourable recommendation, subject to some conditions:  these are executed.

On January 19, 2016, the Borough Council approves the issuance of the Construction permit.

Thereafter, our office maintains close monitoring so as to make sure that the citizens will officially get their permits, before the expiry of their funding program.

The Demolition permit is obtained on January 20, 2016 and the Construction permit, on January 29, 2016.

Post Mortem

The citizens spent significant amounts of money and time for the preparation of their file and for the production of the many plans and reports requested by the Borough.  They had to invest a tremendous amount of energy to make their file progress.

The OdM had to be present at every step to obtain details or explanations regarding certain Borough’s requests and, sometimes, to object to them; to facilitate the relationship between the citizens and the municipal representatives; and to convince the citizens, who were exasperated by the long process, to revise certain elements to satisfy the requirements of the PIIA.

Although they obtained their permits, the citizens remain bitter.  They deplore the long delays, the lack of clarity regarding the requirements of the Borough, the inaccuracy of some of the information provided to them and the fact that documents already in the possession of the Borough were sometimes requested again.

It must also be noted that many Borough architects and agents succeeded themselves in this file.  This turnover was certainly detrimental to the coherent and efficient processing of the file.

The policy changes regarding how applications should be handled when a demolition permit and a construction permit are requested for projects submitted to the PIIA also seem to have had an impact on the management of this file.

New policy – 15-day call back delay (2014)

The Division des études techniques of Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal was functionning on a basis of a 160-day delay to handle a citizen’s request or to return his/her phone call.  Such a long call back delay seemed unacceptable to our office.  A new procedure was implemented following our Recommendation.  The Division must henceforth call back citizens in a maximum delay of 15 days.  In light of the significant number of requests handled by this Division, a shorter delay did not seem realistic.


Conflict of jurisdiction between two divisions – Long delays in processing a citizen’s request (2014)

A citizen of Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is complaining of the very long delays he is facing and of the incomplete answers he obtained, following his request for the construction of a driveway entrance.  Our investigation revealed that two divisions of the Borough shared the responsibility of handling this type of requests and that the tasks of each were not clearly defined.  In the present case, each division believed that the other was handling the request.  Following our intervention, the divisions agreed to a more coherent procedure and clearly defined their respective responsibilities for the treatment of these types of files.

Request to widen a driveway: surprising response time (2013)

A citizen was contesting the decision of Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to refuse his request to widen his driveway. He was also complaining about the fact that it took a little over one (1) year for the Borough to give him an answer.

Under the procedure in place, the Division des permis et inspections relays this type of request to the Division des études techniques, for analysis: the second must thereafter inform the first of its conclusions.

In the present instance, the delay was due to a disagreement on the applicable standards and also to the fact that, despite many follow-up calls by the citizen and the permit department, the Division des études techniques was late in sending its conclusions.

Due to our intervention, the citizen obtained the widening of his driveway notwithstanding the initial refusal of the Division des études techniques: it turned out this refusal was based on requirements which were not provided for in the regulation.

Furthermore, we are pursuing our intervention towards the improvement of the procedures for these types of requests.


Better follow-ups, better results (2013)

A citizen was unsatisfied with the way Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal had handled many of the complaints she and her neighbours had submitted in 2011 and 2012, regarding vibrations in their houses, when vehicles were circulating. These vibrations had gradually increased to the point of becoming a real nuisance for the residents who also feared for the integrity of their properties.

The citizen was complaining of the absence of response and follow-up from the Borough, despite her numerous requests made to Réseau Accès Montréal.

Our investigation confirmed that many requests had, indeed, been filed regarding this problem, in 2011 and 2012, but had not been dealt with adequately.

The Borough reacted by improving its database and its communication procedures. It also requested that its employees better document their interventions. The Borough quickly noticed the positive impact of these changes on the handling of requests. As for the citizen, she was satisfied with the results.

Returning calls within a reasonable time (2013)

After receiving a statement of offence which he believed had been issued by mistake, a citizen of Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal called Réseau Accès Montréal to obtain information on parking signs on a street. Although he called many times, the citizen waited three (3) months before a Borough employee called him back.

We suggested the Borough to implement better practices that would ensure that citizens calling to obtain information are called back within a reasonable time.

Cutting down a public tree: information and billing (2013)

Arrondissement Le Sud-Ouest was open to the idea of improving its administrative procedures regarding the management of citizens’ requests to cut down a public tree.

A citizen had complained that the Borough had sent her the bill relating to such a situation sixteen (16) months after the tree had been cut down at the request of her contractor who had to replace a water pipe. The citizen also opposed the fact that she had not been informed in advance of the related costs.

The Borough is currently assessing how to better inform citizens and improve its billing practices.