Photo: Jacques Nadeau Archives The Duty
Savard is the ombudsman of the City of Montreal since the creation of this position, in 2003
A citizen banned from the platforms Twitter and Facebook in the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal, places of worship, derogatory, bike trails no safe and affordable housing, which are not always attributed to people who really need it. Before you take his leave after 17 years of service, the ombudsman de Montréal, ms. Johanne Savard, was made public on Monday its latest annual report that reflects the diversity of folders that she has had to deal with in 2019.
In the course of the last year the ombudsman has received 1910 applications for intervention, that is 105 more than the previous year. Among them was that of the citizen who, by dint of criticizing the decisions of the Plateau-Mont-Royal, has been banned from the platforms Twitter and Facebook of the borough.
The ombudsman also intervened. “This was a very complicated for us, because it is a new law. He had to go look for precedents in Europe and the United States. There was even a judgment that had been made when Mr. Trump banned people on Facebook, ” said Ms. Savard to interview for the Duty.
If an individual can prevent a person from attending its page Facebook, an institution can not do that, concluded the ombudsman, who has submitted the file to the direction générale of the City. It has promised to raise awareness among managers of social media platforms of the machinery of municipal government to the issue of freedom of expression.
Housing not so affordable
The ombudsman has also alerted the City about the problem of social and affordable housing. These are not always allocated to people in need, noted the ombudsman, who noted that the civil Code of Québec does not have specific rules for social housing or affordable or requirements related to income. The assignment of a lease is not forbidden and there are no rules for the establishment of the rent. Thus, precise-t-on, the housing called affordable costs, in many cases, only 5 % less than those in the private market.
The Front of popular action in urban redevelopment (FRAPRU) argues that this is due to the lack of funding from the government of Québec in the program AccèsLogis, which has an effect on units not subsidized. “As its investments are not sufficient for years, so that the City and the projects must absorb the difference. It is reflected in the rents, ” explains Véronique Laflamme, spokesperson for FRAPRU.
The office of the mayor Valerie Plant, it shows to be sensitive to this situation. “Some issues may be addressed through changes made in the new version of our program AccèsLogis. However, any amendment to the civil Code must be made by the government of Quebec and not the City of Montreal, ” said Laurence Houde-Roy, press attaché to the executive committee.
Places of worship in Montreal-Nord
Some files were opened following complaints going back several years that have still not been resolved. One of the places of worship in Montreal-Nord is a part. In 2014, the ombudsman had reported that several places of worship in the borough were located in residential areas, in violation of the zoning. Some also had other security risks such as an emergency exit blocked or sprinkler system non-functional. Inspections have been conducted by the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal and the borough has undertaken to prepare a regulation to determine the areas where places of worship could be allowed, which would require many of them to relocate. A consultation should be conducted on this matter, but the pandemic of sars coronavirus has forced the borough to change the procedures of the study project.
Other folders that were lying around for years, could be settled in 2019. This is particularly the case of the micro-sidewalk of the rue de Brébeuf was built in 2015. After that the organizations of defense of the rights of persons with reduced mobility have filed a complaint with the ombudsman, the City of Montreal has finally agreed to expand the sidewalk last year. Now he is 1.7 metres wide instead of 70 centimeters.
Savard noted, moreover, that the question of universal accessibility has been a priority for his office. “It has been very long to implement this culture. The City of Montreal is of fine amenities without realizing that to the side, there is a house inhabited by people with a disability and that with this development, it would be very difficult to gain access to their transportation, for example, she recounts. I know that there has been a lot of impact to the City. The groups that represent these people-there I have witnessed many times. “
The ombudsman has been less successful with the record of children’s games installed on a street in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Ms. Savard had concluded that the modules of games, which were not anchored to the soil, represented a security risk for the children. The district eventually refused to withdraw these facilities as recommended by the ombudsman. “We are very worried about the safety of children,” said ms. Savard. We think that the duty of the City is to ensure that on its land, the places are safe. “
The pandemic has not prevented the ombudsman from continuing its activities. Ms. Savard noted, however, that up to now, the complaints in connection with the coronavirus and containment have been few in number. On the issue of statements of offence issued by the police, she does not believe that his office could actually intervene if the complaints about him were sent.
Savard is not yet known when she will be leaving, but it intends to remain the time necessary for the transition. The City of Montreal said on Monday that the staffing process was ongoing and that the appointment of the successor of ms. Savard would be announced ” at the appropriate time “.
When she had been named ombudsman of the City in 2003, the position had just been created. Other québec and canadian cities, including Toronto, have followed suit, creating also an ombudsman.