FOI WISE

Ron Bolin: March 29, 2016

Freedom of Information requests and City responses are important in understanding what Nanaimo’s Administration leaves out of the conversation which it has with Citizens at Open Council and related meetings.  FOI’s may bring to light information which has somehow been overlooked in reporting, or has been insufficiently explored to determine the need and/or purpose of specific City actions.

The provincially legislated Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was established to make public bodies more accountable and transparent to the public and to protect personal privacy.

Any person who makes a request has a right of access to any ‘record’ (with certain exceptions) in the custody or under the control of a public body. This includes records containing your own personal information. Personal information which is requested about another individual requires a release from that person.

Most FOI requests involve factual information about the basis for decision making in the City, i.e. reports, authorizations, documents, costs, procedures, etc. and are relatively specific and unambiguous –note I said relatively… Very specific questions may be required to solicit very specific answers.

Those who have read this blog before are aware of my ongoing FOI/OIPCBC case regarding the redaction of a video segment from a video record of a Council meeting.  This matter which has been under question for nearly two years was recently reopened following a determination by an adjudicator for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC that the original question asked lay outside the authority of the OIPCBC, i.e. was too general.  It has been reopened with a specific request which remains open at this time.

I have submitted other FOI requests to the City of Nanaimo and some have received responses.  These questions and responses will be shown here and in subsequent Comments to this post.

Submissions of FOI questions and responses from other citizens are requested as the power of FOI is dissipated if only one citizen, the one making the request, is aware of the response.  Power lies in widespread information.

Request re: grant documents, sent Jan.24.2016.

Last year I attended an information meeting for organizations requesting grants from the City which laid out new requirements for grant applications which I thought were a considerable step up in providing the kind of information needed to support any request.  Early this year, while the budgeting process was proceeding I requested a copy of the documents submitted for the purpose of supporting grant applications:

To:  Legislative Services:

I note that there are a number of reports mentioned in the agenda for tonight’s COW meeting which reference materials provided to the Grants and Culture and Heritage Committees (in Section 7)  but which are not attached to the agenda.  Where are these reports to be found?

Thanks,

Ron Bolin

 

Response

2016-MAR-14

Our File:  FOI00145

Dear Mr. Bolin,

This email is in response to your request for access to records dated 2015-JAN-29 for the following records:

“the reports supplied to the City by the groups seeking grants which were required in the recently revised grant application process.”

The actual file is too large for sending via email, so I have attached a link for you to access your records via the City of Nanaimo’s OwnCloud, where it is secured and password protected.

***AFOI00145 Pkg_Redacted_reduced size (3).   (Note that the file is about 15Mb in length)

Please note, that the records you requested contain information that is excepted from disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Section 22 (a copy of which is attached for your information).  The excepted information has been severed from the enclosed records in order to comply with the Act.

I have also attached to this email the “Operating Grant Guidelines & Criteria”.  The bottom of page 4 is highlighted where it has a confidentiality clause making it necessary to obtain this information through FOIPPA.

***Operating Grant Guidelines & Criteria

Section 52 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act stipulates that you may request a review of the City of Nanaimo’s decision by the Information and Privacy Commissioner within 30 days of receipt of this letter.  If you wish to request a review, please do so in writing to:

Office of the Information and Privacy

Commissioner for British Columbia

PO Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.

Victoria BC  V8W 9A4

Phone: 250-387-5629 / Fax: 250-387-1696

Please include the following information with your letter:

  1. Your name, address and telephone number.
  2. Our file number noted at the top of this letter.
  3. The type of request that you made (or a copy of your application form).
  4. A copy of this letter.
  5. The reason(s) or grounds upon which you are requesting a review.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sheila Gurrie, CIPP/C, CIAPP-P

Claims/FOI Coordinator

Legislative Services

City of Nanaimo

455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, BC  V9R 5J6

T 250.755.4494  F 250.755.4435

 

Request & Response re: Legal Costs of OIPCBC file F14-58563

CORR160317_Response to Applicant RE FOI00153

 Followed by the following:

Hi Mr. Bolin,

I forgot to attach this to my last email RE: FOI00153.

Thank you,

Sheila

Legal advice14 The head of a public body may refuse to disclose to an applicant

information that is subject to solicitor client privilege.

 

Request & Response re: Copy of Estimate for Demolition of Old City Annex

FOI 238 Franklyn demolition001

 

 

 

Request and Response re: Charges from Integrity Group: (from Robert Fuller)

From: “Sheila Gurrie” <Sheila.Gurrie@nanaimo.ca>
To: “bevnbob@shaw.ca” <bevnbob@shaw.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 4:48:44 PM
Subject: Response to Request for Records under FOIPPA #FOI00144
2016-MAR-15

Our File:  FOI00144

Dear Mr. Fuller,

This email is in response to your request for access to records dated 2016-FEB-01 for the following records:

 

“1) Copies of the contract(s) arranged between the City of Nanaimo/(Mayor Bill McKay) and Integrity Group in order for a facilitator “to help council get along” 2) Copies of all invoices and monies paid to Integrity Group for the above contract, including termination charges if applicable. 3) Correspondence related to the above contract, including reports, between Mayor and Integrity Group, council and Integrity Group, Mayor and Council and Integrity Group and City of Nanaimo Staff and Integrity Group.”

In response to your request, please note the following:

  • the records you requested for “contracts arranged between the City of Nanaimo/Mayor Bill McKay and Integrity Group”, do not exist.  There is no contract that can be located pertaining to the work done by the Integrity Group for their services.  They sent a proposal letter to the Mayor, but it cannot be confirmed as accepted, and is not signed.  Therefore, the records for this portion of your request do not exist;
  • I have attached all of the invoices/costs we have been able to locate regarding the above noted matter; and,
  • there is no correspondence regarding the above noted contract (no contract), no reports in our custody or that we have been made aware of, between the Mayor and the Integrity Group.  This includes between Council and City Staff as well.  The only correspondence we have been able to locate is with respect to travel and meeting arrangements between the City Staff/Mayor and the facilitator, Heather MacKenzie.  I did not include these emails as they were not within the scope of your request (not relevant to what you are looking for).

In addition to the above, I would like to state that the City’s CAO, Tracy Samra, is looking into this matter using Staff resources and technology and has let me know that when the information becomes available, we will be releasing it.  I therefore ask for your patience in determining if we can locate anything more in the near future to satisfy your request.

Invoices from Integrity Group

Section 52 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act stipulates that you may request a review of the City of Nanaimo’s decision by the Information and Privacy Commissioner within 30 days of receipt of this letter.  If you wish to request a review, please do so in writing to:

Office of the Information and Privacy

Commissioner for British Columbia

PO Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.

Victoria BC  V8W 9A4

Phone: 250-387-5629 / Fax: 250-387-1696

Please include the following information with your letter:

  1. Your name, address and telephone number.
  2. Our file number noted at the top of this letter.
  3. The type of request that you made (or a copy of your application form).
  4. A copy of this letter.
  5. The reason(s) or grounds upon which you are requesting a review.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sheila Gurrie, CIPP/C, CIAPP-P

FOI Coordinator

Legislative Services

City of Nanaimo

455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, BC  V9R 5J6

T 250.755.4494  F 250.755.4435

 

Requests awaiting Response:

RB – “I request a full and unredacted copy of the video of the Council meeting of July 14, 2014, or Alternatively and in my opinion better, that the unredacted video of that meeting be made available for public viewing on the City’s web site.”  This reopens the original case with the OIPCBC.

RB – “In accordance with direction from Chris Jackson, I wish, along with an authority, to review all City property records regarding 238 Franklyn Street from its development to its recent sale/conditional sale. This would include permits, assessments, renovations, evaluations and related documents.  This is not a request to have the records duplicated at this time, though duplication may be requested for some records.”

DISCUSSION

Whether in this venue or in another, perhaps a separate web site, I think it is important that the results of FOI requests become knowledge which adds to the store of information available to citizens in a democratic society.  It is too easy for bureaucracies to become lazy or even corrupt if they can too easily avoid public scrutiny.  When responses to citizens remain on a one-on-one basis, it is easy to respond to each individual with what they may want to hear.  When it is made public, the public becomes stronger and more engaged.  Your observations on how information attained under FOI can go from the individuals, who obtain it directly, to the public which can use it, are requested.

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