Roads, parks prime causes for complaints
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
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.