Now-Leader file photo

Surrey council approves $150 FOI fee for attendance requests at city facilities

This came before council’s meeting on Monday July 13

Surrey city council has approved a staff recommendation to amend the Freedom of Information bylaw to approve a new $150 fee for processing “routine requests” for attendance records at Surrey’s facilities.

This came before council on Monday July 13 and was approved by the five Safe Surrey Coalition members.

Councillors Steven Pettigrew, Linda Annis, Jack Hundial and Brenda Locke voted against it.

Hundial said obligating Surrey taxpayers to pay for this information “to me does not seem transparent, and at a time when transparency is key for all levels off government, including local government.

“I don’t believe we should be charging a fee for a resident to ask questions that they otherwise will not be able to obtain or really get the answers that they need for their own decision-making processes.”

Councillor Brenda Locke also voted against it.

“I think that a flat fee of $150 for an FOI request without specifying the number of pages that’s being asked for is a bit unfair,” she said. “I think transparency is already an issue, in my opinion, with this council and therefore residents are gaining insight into what we do by FOI and I think the public does deserve to know what we’re doing and so if that’s how they have to find out the information, I believe that they are entitled to that.”

Council heard that these FOI requests take anywhere from 30 minutes to eight hours to process and that the $150 fee was arrived at based on the cost of staff time, on average, to respond to these requests.

Locke asked staff if there has been an increase in the number of FOI requests over the last year and a half.

She was told the number has increased steadily over recent years and there will probably be more requests this year compared to last year.

Council was also asked to approve amendments that would “accurately reflect” city staff titles and their responsibilities.

The FOI bylaw was adopted in March 1999, under Mayor Doug McCallum’s watch. Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s general manager of corporate services, noted that many staff job titles have changed since then.

Costanzo said the city commonly receives requests for attendance records at its facilities. “These requests are typically related to personal injury claims where, for example, law firms are required to prove attendance or non-attendance of their clients at city recreational facilities,” he stated in a report.

The city had been providing these records at no cost. Costanzo said a flat fee of $150 per request will help the city recover related administrative costs and be subject to annual budgetary increases.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

City of Surrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new recycling trucks on the way for White Rock

Council approves higher cost to reduce operations yard problems

Politicians want Surrey’s Civic Distinction Awards done ‘virtually,’ not postponed

City staff recommended they be put off to the fall of 2021 because of the pandemic

Illegal suite a concern for Cloverdale man

Despite a City-issued stop-work order, construction continues

White Rock Tritons ‘just happy to get out there’ against real competition

BC Premier Baseball League team returns to field against Langley Blaze, Abbotsford Cardinals

Surrey Mounties need help to find missing woman

Hasheena Mundie, 25, was last seen at about 4:20 pm on August 4, in the 16700-block of 61 Avenue

‘Do our lives count for less?’: COVID-19 exposes cracks in disability aid

In July, Parliament approved a $600 payment for people with disabilities facing additional expenses during COVID-19

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

BREAKING: Reported stabbing in Harrison Hot Springs

Police chase ran through Agassiz, witnesses say

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch first round bye with win

Bandits defeat Guelph 84-70, advance to the CEBL semifinals on Saturday

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Maple Ridge firefighting camp empowers young women

Camp Ignite to take place at Justice Institute on Sunday, Aug. 9

Most Read

l -->