Roads, parks prime causes for com­plaints

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News In­for­ma­tion Pri­vacy Act, Mu­nic­i­pal Free­dom of and Pro­tec­tion of


Staff A pro­posed cor­po­rate com­plaint pol­icy by­law for South Glen­garry town­ship is ex­pected to be given a third and fi­nal read­ing at the May 7 reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing.

The or­di­nance re­ceived its first and sec­ond read­ings at the reg­u­lar Fe­bru­ary 5 coun­cil ses­sion, at which time mem­bers of coun­cil sug­gested a hand­ful of re­vi­sions.

Town­ship clerk Kelli Cam­peau took those sug­ges­tions into con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore draw­ing up and pre­sent­ing the re­vised draft of the pro­posed pol­icy to coun­cil on April 2.

“We did a lit­tle bit of an in­ter­nal re­view, and I con­sulted with all the de­part­ment heads to ask some of the ques­tions that coun­cil had brought up,” said Mrs. Cam­peau.

She ex­plained “it is chal­leng­ing to quan­tify the ac­tual num­ber of for­mal com­plaints re­ceived” be­cause most de­part­ments log com­plaints in the same way that ser­vice re­quests (re­quests for ac­tion), gen­eral in­quiries and feed­back are tracked, pri­mar­ily the use of its Ser­vice Re­quest Man­age­ment soft­ware.

“This em­pha­sizes the need to es­tab­lish a pol­icy that dif­fer­en­ti­ates a for­mal com­plaint from other re­quests and com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­ceived from the pub­lic,” said Mrs. Cam­peau.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ceived 551 com­plaints in 2016 and 2017.

Of those, 288 – or 52 per cent – were di­rected to­wards the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices de­part­ment, con­cern­ing is­sues re­gard­ing roads and parks/fa­cil­i­ties.

The town­ship’s com­mu­nity ser­vices de­part­ment han­dled 245 com­plaints, the vast ma­jor­ity of those (215) per­tain­ing to by­law en­force­ment mat­ters.

Ten com­plaints were fire ser­vices-re­lated, and eight were for the cor­po­rate ser­vices de­part­ment.

How­ever, as Mrs. Cam­peau ex­plained, it’s dif­fi­cult to pin­point ex­actly how many of those were “for­mal com­plaints” given the ex­ist­ing sys­tem used by the town­ship.

Among the ques­tions raised by coun­cil dur­ing ini­tial dis­cus­sions on the for­mal com­plaint pol­icy in Fe­bru­ary was whether town­ship res­i­dents could file com­plaints anony­mously and if mem­bers of coun­cil could do so, on be­half of a res­i­dent.

“We do not rec­om­mend that the pol­icy al­low for anony­mous com­plaints. There are a num­ber of rea­sons for this, namely that we can’t ad­e­quately fol­low up on a com­plaint if we don’t know who to go to for the in­for­ma­tion,” said Mrs. Cam­peau.

“And from a by­law en­force­ment stan­dard, our en­force­ment of­fi­cers re­quire prob­a­ble and rea­son­able grounds to in­ves­ti­gate a com­plaint...If we don’t know who’s mak­ing the com­plaint, we can’t nec­es­sar­ily jus­tify in­ves­ti­gat­ing it.”

Mrs. Cam­peau added that she made in­quiries to a num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties re­gard­ing their re­spec­tive com­plaints poli­cies and re­ceived ap­prox­i­mately 15 re­sponses.

“And within those 15 poli­cies, none al­lowed for anony­mous com­plaints,” she said.

The pro­posed pol­icy per­mits coun­cil­lors to file com­plaints on be­half of res­i­dents, as long as the com­plainant pro­vides his or her name, as well as all the re­quired in­for­ma­tion to per­form an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Com­plainants’ iden­ti­ties will be kept con­fi­den­tial, and their in­for­ma­tion will be pro­tected, as en­sured by the

as well as other ap­pli­ca­ble leg­is­la­tion.

Dur­ing last week’s dis­cus­sion, Mrs. Cam­peau en­cour­aged coun­cil to con­tact her with any ques­tions or ad­di­tional changes they would like to see in the pro­posed com­plaints pol­icy by the end of next week (April 20), giv­ing her suf­fi­cient time to pre­pare the fi­nal draft for the May 7 reg­u­lar meet­ing.

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