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Anonymous complaints remain prohibited

Mountain View County council debates whether to allow complainant information to be made publicly available, with exceptions

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - County council has discussed possible changes to the municipality's complaint process policy that would allow for complainant information to be made publicly available except where disclosure is protected by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The review and discussion came during the Oct. 26 council meeting, held in person and on Zoom.

The county’s governance review committee discussed Policy No. 1021 on Oct. 13. Under the current policy, anonymous complaints are not accepted, therefore the complainant is required to provide his or her personal information when filing a complaint; however once that information is submitted it is protected from public disclosure for the several reasons, including “disclosure of personal information may lead to greater conflict between parties.”

The current policy also states that disclosure of the complainant's personal information “would not derive large benefit for parties as the majority of complaints would still require follow up from the county and subsequent compliance by the landowner.”

During the Oct. 26 meeting, council discussed whether the policy should remain unchanged or whether changes should be made to allow complainant information to be made publicly available, with exceptions.

Coun. Dwayne Fulton said, in part, “I support the continued practice of prohibiting anonymous complaints because anybody can drop a complaint in if they don’t have to put their name on it just to be pain or to get back at somebody. If you are willing to sign off with it knowing that it is confidential protected information I think that’s what we need to have to get bonafide complaints.”

Coun. Gord Krebs said, in part, “To me if you are going to make a complaint you should have the guts to stand up and defend that complaint. Right now that does not follow through.”

Coun. Greg Harris said, in part, “I like it the way it is. I think if we start disclosing complainants we won’t have any complainants to disclose. There are a large number of people who don’t complain now because they just don’t believe they can stay anonymous. If we change that (policy) I think there is going to be a lot of people who are going to just never complain, and I think that’s bad for the county.”

Reeve Angela Aalbers said, in part, “I think the confidentiality of the complaint is absolutely imperative. And anyone who submits a complaint I always make sure to tell them the only time your information is going to be shared is if it does go to court. I think (changing the policy) would create horrible havoc in the county.”

Policy No. 1021 states that all complaints “will be treated as confidential, unless authorization is given by the complainant to release his or her identity.”

Administration supports the continued practice of prohibiting anonymous complaints while protecting the confidentiality of those that do submit complaints, said Jeff Holmes, the county's chief administrative officer.

Coun. Harris put forward a motion to accept the report on Policy No. 1021 for information purposes only. The motion passed with all council members in attendance at the Oct. 26 meeting.

Dan Singleton

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