B.C.’s Freedom of Information Act is intended to “make public bodies more accountable to the public and to protect personal privacy.”

LETTER: City failing on FOI requests

From reader Norm Yanke

Re: “City received 16 freedom of information requests in 2019,” March 12

In the story the city’s corporate officer says they try to figure out what is being requested. Certainly not in my experience.

If I don’t get the wording exact, I receive nothing. This results in another submission reworded, resulting in huge delays.

There was a Nelson Hydro estimate for power purchased from a microhydro producer. I asked for the annual kWh and rate paid per kWh. The city reply: nobody knows.

I reworded a second FOI request, something I have had to do before. Now they have information but their reply: they don’t have the resources and it could take several hours and I would have to pay. I appealed to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. They agree the city should answer.

The city sort of gave me an answer referring me to their retail rate schedule, but I don’t know which of the many rates is being paid, except they are not paying wholesale but full retail. Nelson Hydro’s bylaw says they won’t buy any power unless it makes economic sense.

I asked the mayor and councilors why they ignore the bylaw and pay full retail. Nobody replies. Your power bill is subsidizing paying full retail for this power, the community solar garden power, Balfour public buildings’ solar power and anyone else’s power.

We should be seeing the huge profits made from selling our own Nelson Hydro power to reduce everyone’s electric bills.

It’s nice to see, according to the article, others are submitting FOI requests to the city. Are they experiencing the delays and lack of help I am?

The purpose of FOI is to hold government accountable. Nothing is transparent in this city.

Norm Yanke

Nelson

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