Reason to Love Toronto: because the city ombudsman fights city hall—and wins
Fiona Crean skis double black diamonds. She paraglides off cliffs in Peru. And as Toronto’s ombudsman—our Judge Judy on all matters municipal—she takes on the power brokers at city hall. In October, she pulled off her biggest coup since starting the job in 2009. Crean discovered that over 90 per cent of the 12,000 claims residents made to the city between 2005 and 2010—over sewer backups, fallen tree branches, potholes and the like—had been automatically rejected. Her team’s sweeping, 14-month investigation unearthed something even more gobsmacking: the staffers who were dismissing these claims were lying to claimants, telling them that an investigation had been conducted. Crean is a seasoned political animal, having worked as interim ombudsman for Ontario, so she knows how the game is played. She held a press conference to reveal her findings, essentially giving Ford—the mayor who prides himself on quality customer service—no option but to comply. She made 10 recommendations, which the city manager, Joe Pennachetti, quickly accepted, promising to implement a new service standard by the end of this month. For a resident with a flooded basement or a cracked axle, that means no more bureaucratic foot-dragging on the other end of the line. Within 18 months—a nanosecond in the glacially paced world of government—Crean spotted a gargantuan problem and fixed it, turning her fury into results. Now that’s something we can get behind.