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City needs ombudsman

To the editor: I had this Toronto Star article brought to my attention because it shows just how behind the times the city of Thunder Bay is when it comes to dealing with citizen complaints. The City of Thunder Bay needs an ombudsman.
To the editor:

I had this Toronto Star article brought to my attention because it shows just how behind the times the city of Thunder Bay is when it comes to dealing with citizen complaints.

The City of Thunder Bay needs an ombudsman. Plain and simple. In that $155 million in personnel services that is being budgeted for 2010, I am sure savings can be found to create such an office without increasing staff numbers or taxes.

We also need an appeal process for lifetime bans from public facilities. Why? In Thunder Bay, a person can be banned from city property for life on the word of a single civil servant.

Yes. An employee of the City of Thunder Bay has the power to permanently ban someone from a public park or a public building or a public facility. The employee can do this just by simply pointing a finger in someone’s direction and uttering an accusation. That’s all.
Voila! A citizen is banned for life. That is just how easy it is to take away a citizen’s freedom in this town.

In fact, in Thunder Bay, a person can be banned for life from a public park without even having set foot in the park they are being banned from.

I know. It happened to me. Who can I appeal this unfair treatment to? Nobody. An appeal process seems to be the least the city can do for its citizens before it authorizes something as serious as a lifetime ban from a public facility, park or building. The very least.

In Thunder Bay, the onus is on the accused to prove their innocence, the opposite of how the justice system works. The accuser has to do nothing. The accuser has to prove nothing. The accuser merely has to accuse. It’s simply the accuser’s word against yours. You are obviously guilty because a city employee would never lie. Therefore, you must be lying.

Banning someone from public facilities longer than a day or two should be hard. It should be a last resort.

Banning someone from a public facility for life on nothing more than the word of an angry civil servant should be impossible.

Jon Hutt,
Thunder Bay