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Fire-hall, photo-radar records among ombudsman reports posted online Friday

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

Acting ombudsman Mel Holley said the reports reflect complaints Manitobans raise with his office about local government and FIPPA requests. The reports are posted on the ombudsman’s website.

The five investigation reports 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 involves a complaint about the RM of Alexander where an allegation was made that council did not correctly interpret and fairly enforce its zoning bylaw. The ombudsman found 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 RM of Saskatchewan. Although the ombudsman did not make a recommendation, he suggested the municipality (and all municipalities) issue reasons for their decisions.

- The fifth report concerns a complaint about the RM of Macdonald, where the complainant believed 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. The ombudsman’s office 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 10 reports concerning FIPPA request complaints 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.

- RM of Ritchot — refusal of access in part to records about development plans and water and wastewater treatment management.

- RM of Rosser — adequacy of search for email and other electronic records referring to the complainant.

- RM 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.

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