Combudsperson’s Report: Grand Forks tops list

The B.C. ombudsperson has released her report for 2014-15 and of all municipalities in B.C., Grand Forks tops the list of open files.

The B.C. ombudsperson, Kim Carter, has released her report for 2014-15 and of all municipalities in B.C., Grand Forks tops the list of open files with 20.

The office of the ombudsperson responds to inquiries from the public and conducts thorough, impartial and independent investigations of complaints. They generally oversee the administrative actions of public agencies to enhance transparency and accountability.

The office receives each individual complaint and assesses it before deciding whether to proceed in one of four ways: information and assistance; referral; early resolution; or investigation.

The ombudsperson can investigate complaints of unfair actions and decisions by: provincial ministries; local governments; health authorities; provincial boards, commissions, Crown corporations; school boards, colleges, universities; and self-regulating professions and pension boards of trustees.

The office of the ombudsperson can make recommendations to: refer a matter for further consideration; an act be remedied; a decision or recommendation be cancelled or changed; reasons be given; a practice, procedure or course of conduct be altered; an enactment or other rule of law be reconsidered; or any other step be taken.

Grand Forks has almost twice as many (as of March 31, 2015) current open files as the City of Vancouver, which has 11. In comparison, Kelowna has one open file, Chilliwack has two and Victoria has three. In the West Kootenay, Castlegar has two, Nelson zero and Trail has two. In the Kootenay Boundary, Greenwood has none and Midway has one.

The office of the ombudsperson is not allowed to speak about any files due to confidentiality rules.

Grand Forks had four files closed in 2014-15. In comparison, Greenwood had two and Midway had one.

There were no files opened during the report season for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary or School District 51. Interior Health Authority (IHA) had 59 files opened in all of 2014-15, while 59 were closed in 2014-15. IHA currently has 12 files open (as of March 31).

There were a total of 7,818 complaints and inquiries received by the office of the ombudsperson. That number included 2,209 requests for information and assistance; 3,402 matters dealt with by complaints analysts; 1,535 investigative files completed and 333 early resolution files completed.

Grand Forks had 20 cases opened throughout all of 2014-15, equal to five per cent of the all local governments in B.C. The City of Vancouver is first in files that were opened in 2014-15 with 24, or seven per cent of the total.

In comparison, Trail had three, Castlegar had two, Greenwood and Midway had two each, and Nelson had one.

In total, the office of the ombudsperson closed 5,270 files in 2014-15. There are 1,058 open files left as March 31.