Pontiac municipalities fall short

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Quebec Municipal Commission performs municipal website audit

Sophie Demers

MRC PONTIAC – The Quebec Municipal Commission did a performance audit of municipal websites recently and published the results in March, specifically looking at information availability and content management, demonstrating a number of shortcomings for many municipalities. Twenty municipalities across Quebec were audited, but L’Ange Gardien was the only Outaouais municipality included.

The objective of the audit was to assess whether municipalities are transparent in providing information and if their website communication management practices support transparency. The Commission states that providing clear and easily accessible information on municipal websites fosters transparency.

The audit highlighted significant issues with municipal compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Less than half of the audited municipalities disclosed wages and allowances of elected officials on their website, and a quarter did not comply with the regulation to disclose awarded contracts. However, almost all municipalities provided information on their activities, services and participating in democratic life.

In terms of content management, the audit found most policies for updating content were informal and most municipalities had undocumented quality control procedures.

The audit’s findings are consistent with what can be found on local municipal websites like Shawville, which provides proper information on tourism and economic development, bylaws, waste collection, and contacting the municipality; however, there are few public documents concerning finances.

Shawville’s website is also missing elected officials’ contact information, lists of awarded contracts, council meeting minutes, annual budgets, and the salaries of elected officials and their allowances. A member of the municipal administration says they send the minutes to residents who request them.

Comparatively, Campbell’s Bay’s website has the budget and three-year capital program documents as well as council meeting minutes and recordings available to the public. However, like Shawville, the website did not include complete contact information for councillors or a calendar of upcoming events.

According to the Commission, transparency is providing accessible, clear, reliable, and timely information to the public. Access to this information allows residents to better understand services and decision-making processes and encourages participation in democratic life.