City of Laval’s Ombudsman tables seventh annual report

Snow removal ranked high in complaints during winter 2018-2019

In her seventh annual report released on June 3, City of Laval Ombudsman Nadine Mailloux says her office’s activities are steadily increasing, as 24 per cent more Laval residents were using the service last year compared to the year before.

Over the past seven years, the Laval Ombudsman’s office has dealt with 2,894 dossiers, each representing an occasion when the Ombudsman was able to serve as a liaison between the municipal administration and residents to smooth things over when there were disputes, or to help redress an error or injustice when necessary.

Nearly 2,900 dossiers

Nadine Mailloux, the city’s ombudsman for the past seven years, is leaving to step into a similar position with the City of Montreal.

According to the report for the year 2019, the Laval Ombudsman’s office dealt with 58 per cent of dossiers received in less than 30 days. Fifty-seven per cent of the complaints received concerned the public works, engineering and urban planning departments.

Various types of complaint

The Ombudsman’s office claims they were able to resolve 44 per cent of the cases by informing complainants of their rights, and by putting them in contact with the municipal administration or some other organization. The Ombudsman says 21 per cent of cases ended up being dealt with directly by the administration at Laval city hall, and that 35 per cent of these were serious enough to merit being looked into more thoroughly.

According to the Ombudsman, one of the most frequent types of complaint received concerns public works carried out in such a way as to compromise the integrity of private property by damaging or even destroying it. As well, there are complaints regarding inadequately executed work by the city or by sub-contractors.

Guidelines were needed

Ombudsman Mailloux said her office concluded that it was becoming necessary for the city to clarify its position and the protocols to follow when public work is carried out in a way that overlaps onto private property. As such, her office recommended the adoption of clear guidelines for when the city does work on or near private property.

The Ombudsman’s office received an inordinately high number of complaints regarding snow removal during the winter of 2018-2019. Mailloux said her office took the matter up with the central administration. Following this, she added, the administration made a commitment to implement several new strategies in order to improve snow removal operations and efficiency.

Dangerous intersection

In another dossier Mailloux’s office dealt with last year, she said a Laval resident came forward with a complaint about a particular street intersection that he found dangerous. On one of the converging streets there was a stop sign, while on the other (on which there was a bicycle path) there was no stop.

The problem was made worse by the fact a tall hedge impeded the view for those approaching the four-way intersection on one of the streets. The Ombudsman’s office ended up recommending that the city enforce a rule concerning the height of hedges in locations such as this, while also carrying out some other modifications to make the intersection more secure.

Nadine Mailloux leaving

On a final note, Mailloux, who has served as the City of Laval’s Ombudsman since 2013, announced along with her office’s latest report that she is leaving the post to take up a similar position with the City of Montreal. “It was an honor and a privilege to create the office of the Ombudsman of Laval in 2013 and to direct it until today,” she said. “I am very happy with the work accomplished over the past seven years.”

Mailloux pointed out that the office was created at a time when the City of Laval was under trusteeship. “Since then, with patience and determination, we set out to weave a link of confidence with Laval residents. The pertinence and the positive impact of our interventions can be seen daily. I sincerely thank the City of Laval, the citizens and, more particularly, Teresa Ciciotti, my valuable collaborator responsible for administrative support, for the confidence they all placed in me over these many years.”