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Banned Indefinitely – Safety or Punishment?: An Investigation into a Parks, Forestry and Recreation Decision to Ban an Individual

The Issue

On December 5, 2005, the City’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division (PFR) banned Mr. M from all parks and community recreation for inappropriate behaviour. Mr. M felt that was unfair. He also said PFR continually refused to remove the ban and did not give him the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Our Investigation

We interviewed current and former City staff and conducted an extensive document review, including Mr. M’s file, numerous voice mail messages from him to PFR staff, and relevant City policies and legislation.

What We Found

Our investigation found that the City did not act fairly. For instance, it did not keep detailed records about the incident or its rationale for the ban, its letters to Mr. M did not provide sufficient reasons or a timeframe for the ban, and Mr. M was not given a sufficient opportunity to address or refute the allegations against him. Further, the ban extended not only to the facilities where staff were affected, but to all PFR facilities, even though there was no evidence that Mr. M posed a safety risk to staff at all facilities.

Our Recommendations

We made six recommendations, including that PFR:

  • Properly document incidents that occur, ensure the documentation is factual and objective, and ensure all records are properly maintained.
  • Provide clear rationale for its decision to impose a ban, and only issue bans for finite amounts of time.
  • Develop a system whereby suspensions, bans, and trespass notices issued can be accurately monitored and evaluated.
  • Provide Mr. M with a mediated review of the current ban, conducted by an externally appointed mediator with experience in community conflict resolution.

The City’s Response

The City accepted our recommendations and agreed to implement them.