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Ombudsman releases 15 new investigation reports

'These complaints about municipal administration are reflective of the issues Manitobans raise with our office about local government,' Acting Ombudsman Mel Holley says.

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'These complaints about municipal administration are reflective of the issues Manitobans raise with our office about local government,' Acting Ombudsman Mel Holley says.

Manitoba’s Ombudsman has posted 15 new investigation reports on its website, five under The Ombudsman Act and 10 under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

"These complaints about municipal administration are reflective of the issues Manitobans raise with our office about local government," Acting Ombudsman Mel Holley said in a news release this morning.

"We hope that by posting these Ombudsman Act web reports we'll start to build a body of knowledge about best practices in government administration that everyone can benefit."

The following five investigation reports under The Ombudsman Act are:

  • Two reports about the Town of Neepawa. In one case, an allegation was made that a councillor placed himself in a conflict of interest, in another, concerns were raised about both a council meeting agenda and the in-camera portion of a council meeting.
  • A third report results from a complaint about the Rural Municipality of Alexander where an allegation was made that council did not correctly interpret and fairly enforce its zoning by-law. The ombudsman found that the complainant in this case had been treated unreasonably. As the matter could not be informally resolved, the Ombudsman made three recommendations to the municipality.
  • The fourth report details a complaint made by a landowner about council's decision to deny a conditional use request for the construction of a residence on agricultural land in the Rural Municipality of Saskatchewan. Although the Ombudsman did not make a recommendation, he suggested that the municipality (and all municipalities) issue reasons for their decisions.
  • The fifth report concerns a complaint about the Rural Municipality of Macdonald where the complainant believed that the RM had unfairly denied two variance applications for subdivision of his land, and that the public hearing held to consider the applications was procedurally unfair. Similar to the RM of Saskatchewan case, the Ombudsman did not make recommendations, but identified that the absence of reasons for the RM's decisions contributed to the complainant's perception that he was treated unfairly.

The Ombudsman Act reports are here.

Six of the FIPPA reports posted are about the City of Winnipeg and four relate to the rural municipalities of Ritchot, Rosser, Woodlands, and the Town of The Pas.

Holley said FIPPA investigation reports can provide the public and public bodies (subject to FIPPA) greater insight into how Manitoba Ombudsman interprets and applies the legislation and resolves complaints in situations where recommendations are not needed.

The following 10 investigation reports under FIPPA are:

  • City of Winnipeg (Corporate Support Services Department) - refusal of access to invoices paid to various real estate companies on the basis that disclosure could be harmful to third party business interests and to the city's financial interests.
  • City of Winnipeg (Fire Paramedic Services Department) - refusal of access to records about traffic effects of new fire hall at Route 90 and Portage Avenue on the basis that disclosure could be harmful to third party business interests and could reveal analyses and recommendations developed for the city.
  • City of Winnipeg (Golf Services) - refusal of access to records about finances of city golf courses.
  • City of Winnipeg (Winnipeg Police Service) - concerns about the proposed approach to searching for email records mentioning the applicant or his organization.
  • City of Winnipeg (Winnipeg Police Service) - refusal of access in part to records relating to a photo-radar enforcement report.
  • City of Winnipeg (Winnipeg Transit) - various aspects of handling of four requests for information about operating expenses and advertising on buses.
  • Rural Municipality of Ritchot - refusal of access in part to records about development plans and water and wastewater treatment management.
  • Municipality of Rosser - adequacy of search for email and other electronic records referring to the complainant.
  • Rural Municipality of Woodlands - refusal of access to records of animal unit verification counts for a specified hog operation, on the basis that disclosure could be harmful to the third party's business interests.
  • Town of The Pas - refusal of access to water fluoridation study on the basis that disclosure would reveal deliberations of an "in camera" meeting of the town council.

The FIPPA reports are available here (under "Access Reports").

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