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Hamilton eliminates fee for filing of complaints against councillors

City of Hamilton buildings were closed for much of 2020, helping the city achieve an emission reductions target ahead of schedule.
City of Hamilton buildings were closed for much of 2020, helping the city achieve an emission reductions target ahead of schedule. Ken Mann / Global News

Hamilton residents wanting to file a complaint with the integrity commissioner against a city councillor will no longer have to pay a $100 fee.

City council has voted 9-4 to eliminate the charge, after a recent letter from Ontario’s Ombudsman described it as a “barrier” to criticism.

Read more: Niagara Falls to charge $200 fee for integrity complaints

“There should be no fee or other barrier to make a complaint to the integrity commissioner,” said Paul Dube in his Jan. 12 letter.

The $100 charge “may prevent legitimate complaints from being brought forward due to concerns about financial cost,” added Dube.

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, one of nine councillors who voted to eliminate the fee during a meeting on Wednesday, agreed that “it fundamentally prevents those with lower income from being able to access this accountability and transparency mechanism.”

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Read more: Hamilton city council votes to sanction Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead for conduct violation

Stoney Creek’s Brad Clark added that while $100 may not seem like much money to councillors, “for many people living in Hamilton, disposable income is something that is lacking in the current economy.”

Ward 6’s Tom Jackson was one of four councillors to vote against eliminating the fee.

Jackson calls it a “consequence” for citizens against vexatious or frivolous complaints that are designed to “simply make life uncomfortable.”

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