Well dear reader, I finally received my Municipal Freedom of Information Letter from the City. When I started the process I wrote:
I just do not have the patience any longer to wait for City Hall to provide open and transparent Government on the border file so I thought I would spend my $5 application fee and file a Municipal Freedom of Information Act application...
Information is supposed to be provided to me within 30 days of the date of my request. Of course, I do not expect that to happen.
There is a section that allows for an extention of the time limit set out for a period of time that is reasonable in the circumstances. I am sure that will be used first.
And you know that solicitor-client privilege will be used to deny information as will certain other exemptions dealing with confidential "commercial" or "financial" matters.
Why I would not be surprised if this disclosure did not occur until after the next Municipal election.
I have to admit that what was accomplished was expected but not exactly in the manner of doing so. No matter what happens, unfortunately, no information will be made available before the next municipal election on the areas that I was interested in. [BLOG June 29, 2006 MFOIA--Open And Transparent Government]
I will let you read for yourself what was said without any further comment on my part. If you were in my shoes, what would you do? I am not going to telegraph my strategy but I would be interested in your thoughts.
July 28, 2006
Dear Mr. Arditti
Re: Freedom of Information request – FOI 33-2006
This office received your Freedom of Information request June 28, 2006 for access to City records (copy attached).
I am informing you that all City departments were contacted and responsive records pertaining to your request were located. Your request, as submitted, will require a lengthy manual search through a large number of files by specific staff in each department. Many of these files are located off-site.
Under these circumstances the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows a municipality to implement a user-pay principal in order to complete your seven-part request.
Based on my review of a representative sample of the records obtained from each of these departments, the total fees to process your request are estimated to be $101,089.00. These records consist of letters, drawings, designs, minutes, agendas, plans, agreements, budgets, financial records, capital project documentation and correspondence.
The fee estimate is broken down as follows for manually searching, preparing and photocopying the records:
Search time is calculated by taking into account the actions necessary to locate the requested records and how the records are stored and maintained as well as the actual amount of time needed in each step of locating the requested records. (Fees, Fee Estimates and Fee Waivers for Requests Under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Guidelines for Government Institutions, IPC):
Search time for your request: 1060 hours @ $30.00/hour= $31, 815.00
Preparation time is calculated for the actual records to be disclosed and includes the time spent on severing records, generally 2.00 minutes per page (Order P-4) since many of the documents may require multiple severing. (Fees, Fee Estimates and Fee Waivers for Requests Under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Guidelines for Government Institutions, IPC):
Preparation time for your request: 115,458 minutes/1924.3 hours @ $30.00/hours = $57,729.00
Photocopying costs are generally charged for each page that is photocopied and/or printed from a computer. (Fees, Fee Estimates and Fee Waivers for Requests Under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Guidelines for Government Institutions, IPC):
Photocopying cost for your request: 57,729 @ $0.20 = $11,545.80.80
As we have not yet completed the search and reviewed all of the records in detail, no final decision has been made regarding access. I estimate partial access to the records will be granted, however the City may be relying on Section 6,7,10,11, and 12, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
You are required to pay 50% of the above fee estimate by certified cheque which has been calculated at $50,544.90.
Under the Act, I will not proceed further with your request until the City Clerk has received this amount.
The Act also provides that all or part of the fee can be waived, if, in our opinion, it is fair and equitable to do so, in certain circumstances. Please find enclosed a copy of section 45 of the Act and section 8 of Regulation 823. You may be required to provide evidence in support of any fee waiver request. Please notify me as soon as possible if you wish to proceed with a request for a fee waiver.
Due to the large number of records involved in your request, under Section 20, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, I will be exercising an extension of 10 months in order to complete your request. This will allow 11 staff persons (1 from each department) two hours per week, representing 6.0% of each staff person’s time per week, to work on your request.
You may ask for a review of this interim decision regarding the fee estimate and the time extension, only, within 30 days of receiving this letter by writing to: The Information and Privacy Commission/Ontario, 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400, Toronto Ontario M4W 1A8, Telephone: 416-326-3333 or toll-free 1-800-387-0073.
If you decide to request a review of this decision, please provide the Commissioner’s Office with the following:
The file number listed at the beginning of this letter;
A copy of this decision letter;
A copy of the original request for information you sent to our institution; and
The reasons why you believe the records exist (if the decision was that no records exist).
In addition you must send an appeal fee to the Commissioner’s Office. If your request was for your personal information, the appeal fee is $10.00 The appeal fee for all other requests for information is $25.00. Please include the fee with your letter of appeal – appeal fees should be in the form of either a cheque or money order, payable to the Minister of Finance.
If you have questions or wish to narrow your original request, which could significantly reduce the above costs, you may contact me at 519-255-6285.
Yours very truly,
Manager of Records & Elections and Freedom of Information Coordinator