- A municipality wanted to relocate a road that cut through private property, an operation that required backfilling (using soil to increase elevation or fill a hole).
- The property owner knew someone who could provide the backfill material for free.
- Before going ahead with the work, she applied to her municipality for a permit. She was told that she did not need one because the property was not located in a wetland. The citizen got started.
- Years later, the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques carried out an inspection and it accused the owner of having done work in a wetland without authorization. The Department instructed her to remove the backfill, at a cost of several thousand dollars to her.
Since the municipality had misinformed her, the citizen felt that the Department was being too severe. The work it required her to do would have cost her too much. She complained to the Québec Ombudsman.
What the investigation showed
- The owner had indeed been misinformed and had carried out the work in good faith.
- As the Québec Ombudsman saw it, the Department should have considered the context before saddling the citizen with such an expense.
After the Québec Ombudsman intervened, the Department proposed a solution. Rather than removing the backfill, she could simply plant some vegetation, at much lower cost. Both parties agreed to this way of proceeding.
This case was taken from our 2020-2021 Annual Report.
The Québec Ombudsman ensures that your rights are upheld in your dealings with Québec public services. Are you dissatisfied with the services of a Government of Québec department or agency? Or with those of a health and social services network institution (2nd level of recourse)? File a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman by calling 1-800-463-5070 or use our online complaint form.