Accountability

Make a Complaint about a Member of Council; a Member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee Member

Attention: No Complaint may be referred to the Integrity Commissioner, or filed with the City Clerk, within the period of 90 days immediately prior to a regular election held pursuant to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.

Hamilton’s Office of Integrity Commissioner By-law No. 16-288 outlines the procedure for making a complaint about a member of Council; a member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member.  Members of the public, as well as other members of Council, can file complaints for potential violations of the By-law 16-290: Council Code of Conduct (PDF, 227 KB); the Code of Conduct for Members of a Local Boards of the City of Hamilton (pending) and Hamilton Advisory Committee/Task Force Code of Conduct (PDF, 15 KB).

To make a complaint about a member of Council; a member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member:

  1. Complete an Statement of Complaint Form (PDF, 339 KB)
  2. Place the Statement of Complaint, and any supporting documentation in a sealed envelope addressed to the Integrity Commissioner.
  3. Drop this envelope and affidavit off with the $100 fee at:
    Office of the City Clerk 
    Hamilton City Hall
    71 Main Street West, 1st Floor
    Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5
     
  4. Your envelope will be forwarded unopened to the Integrity Commissioner.
  5. A member of Council; a member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member who is the subject of a complaint under Section 9 of Hamilton’s Integrity Commissioner By-Law No. 08-154 will be told who made the complaint. A complaint about a member of Council; a member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member is not be made available to the public unless required under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

To make an informal complaint about a member of Council; a member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member please follow the following Informal Complaint Procedure (excerpt from By-law 16-288):
10.  Anyone who has witnessed or identified behaviour or activity by a member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member which they believe is in contravention of the Code of Conduct, may wish to address such activity or behaviour themselves as follows:

(1)   advise the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member that the behaviour or activity contravenes the respective Code of Conduct;
(2)   encourage the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member to stop the prohibited behaviour or activity;
(3)   keep a written record of the incident(s), including dates, times, locations, other persons present, and any other relevant information;
(4)   tell someone else (for example a senior staff member or an officer of the City) about their concerns, any comments to the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member, and the response of the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member;
(5)   if applicable, confirm to the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member their satisfaction with the response of the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member, or, if applicable, their dissatisfaction with the response; and
(6)   consider pursuing the matter further in accordance with the formal complaint procedure outlined in this By-law, or in accordance with any other applicable judicial or quasi-judicial process or complaint procedure.

The Integrity Commissioner takes the following steps for complaints:

  1. If an informal resolution cannot be achieved, he begins a formal investigation.
  2. The member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member is given a copy of the complaint.
  3. The member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member responds in writing to the Integrity Commissioner.

The Integrity Commissioner gathers all information and evidence that is relevant to the complaint.  This process could include:

  • Interviews with the complainant, the member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member, City staff or others
  • Gathering documentation
  • Review and analysis of the documentation

After investigating, the Integrity Commissioner submits a public report to Council detailing the results of the investigation. The Commissioner also publishes an annual report.

Hamilton’s Office of Integrity Commissioner By-law No. 16-288 outlines the Complaint Protocol - the procedure for making a complaint about a member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member. 

Relevant sections of the By-law are highlighted below:

  • Council can refer a complaint directly to the lntegrity Commissioner, without paying a fee.  This complaint must contain information required to complete an Affidavit Complaint Form, but does not have to be in the form of an affidavit.
  • A member of the public may make a complaint about a member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member.
  • A complaint about a member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member is not be made available to the public unless required under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
  • A member of the public must pay the City Clerk a refundable fee of $100 when they file a complaint; this is refunded when the lntegrity Commissioner files their report unless the complaint is found to be frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith.  
  • The lntegrity Commissioner will not investigate a complaint that is filed with the City Clerk more than 180 days after the date when the event or series of events which are the subject matter of the complaint occurred.  The Integrity Commissioner will prepare and file a report setting out this decision.
  • The Integrity Commissioner may proceed with an inquiry in regard to a complaint filed after 180n days if the Integrity Commissioner is satisfied that:
    • the delay was incurred in good faith 
    • it is in the public interest to proceed with an inquiry 
    • no substantial prejudice will result to any person because of the delay 

The Integrity Commissioner is bound by the Municipal Act to ensure that a complaint of misconduct against a member of Council; member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member is kept confidential. However, as a function of natural justice, the Councillor, the member of a Local Board or a Citizen Committee member is advised of the person who made a complaint. The Councillor, the member of the Local Board or the Citizen Committee member is also bound by the Municipal Act to keep confidentiality.