Stormed parks that trigger complaints

The cleanliness of city parks has led to numerous complaints to the Ombudsman over the past year. These public spaces have been “taken by a storm” in the context of the pandemic and have become a sanctuary for Montrealers.

For those who live near these places, living together was quite difficult.

“People urinating and defecation on their property or in their parking lots, presence of soiled handkerchiefs that are not thrown in the trash, or foul smells. It’s all there,” says the annual report of the Ombudsman de Montréal, Ms.e Nadine Mailloux.

She points out that an insufficient number of sanitation facilities and garbage cans in certain parks compared to their traffic could explain the phenomenon.

“Many chemical toilets are cleaned and flushed several times a day, which encourages their use. However, other toilets are not used often enough, which discourages people from using them,” she also noted.

Nevertheless, some of these situations could be corrected through discussions with the affected districts. In particular, the municipality of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie installed a chemical toilet in the Parc des Carrières and “immediately solved the problems in this sector”.

Better signage has also made it possible to resolve similar situations in Sainte-Bernadette Park, in the same district, and in Jeanne-Mance Park, at the foot of Mont Royal.

“We work very seriously, for us it is important to improve the service and maintenance of our parks. Access to facilities, park chalets, is something that our administration has made a priority in our investments,” explained Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante in a crowd.

She also noted that the city will ensure its future budgets have “quality facilities” and that it wants to find new sources of funding to stay “at the peak of its ambitions.”

For the official opposition, however, it is “nonsense” that the ombudsman should have intervened in this regard. Especially since the parks were very full due to the pandemic context.

“It really took a body as high as the Ombudsman to have access to chemical toilets? It’s causing disillusionment among Montrealers, who are wondering how the administration can make them big promises when it’s struggling to provide them with basic services,” said Benoit Langevin, city councilor for the official opposition.

“One positive takeaway we can take from the pandemic is certainly Montrealers’ relationship with their green spaces. […] We see that citizens’ habits have changed and that they spend more time in our parks, which means that we have to adjust the services in them, ”the mayor’s office later specified.

Record number of complaints

In its annual report, the Montréal Ombudsman states that it received a record number of complaints and processed 2,365 cases, compared to 2,150 in 2020.

Most of these, 320, concerned public works. A total of 220 files concerned citizen services, while 172 concerned nuisance and 132 concerned trees, community gardens and parks.

“In 2021, our team has leveraged and developed its expertise to hear, understand and resolve cases involving issues touching on a variety of issues such as discrimination, housing adaptation and indigenous homelessness,” said Me Nadine Mailloux.

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