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The last audit of the Esquimalt Police Department

This is an important historical document. It is over a decade old. I am not 100% sure, but this may be the first time that it has been publicly released. I am posting it here linking to the document publicly available on the Open Information web site (managed by the Government of British Columbia) so that people can learn about the history of policing in the Capital Regional District.

Update on March 26, 2013: Changes have been made to this blog post for legal reasons. I have removed the copy hosted on my personal web site. Instead, I am linking to the document entitled “Esquimalt Police Department Review” that has been released to the public by the Government of British Columbia on its Open Information web site. I apologize to any readers who many have set up a link to the (now removed) document. For those who are unfamiliar with the Open Information web site, here is a description from the “About” section:

“In an effort to become more open and transparent, the government is proactively working to provide citizens with access to the information that matters most to them – no closed doors or hidden agendas. It’s felt that this candid disclosure will create opportunities for citizens to participate in government and collaborate on decisions being made.

This type of information sharing is governed by legislation and policy that makes provision for the release of public information. These releases have been completed on a case-by-case basis – until now. Open Information provides access to the routine release of public information that has been most commonly requested (i.e. travel expenses for Ministers and Deputy Ministers). Additionally, individual requests for specific government information that are processed will also be released for general public viewing on this site.

This service will not only improve awareness, understanding and dialogue; it will create efficiencies that modernize and open up government. We invite you to take a look and get to know your government better – you may like what you find.”

As a general reminder, please note that the personal views expressed on this blog are mine alone, and are not to be construed as the views of any other organization. If you have any questions or concerns about this blog, don’t hesitate to contact me at (250) 813-2117 or davidbratzer@gmail.com. I will work with you to address your concerns and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Terrorist attack at the CPR Steamship Terminal building?

Order F13-07 came out today from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. It sets the Provincial Capital Commission straight on how to apply the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Here is a summary of the decision:

A journalist requested records related to the Provincial Capital Commission’s request for proposals to lease the CPR Steamship Terminal Building in Victoria’s inner harbour. Information was withheld under ss. 13(1), 15(1)(l), 21(1) and 22(1) of FIPPA. The adjudicator found that the majority of the information withheld under s. 13(1) was not advice and recommendations, so it must be disclosed. Regarding s. 15(1)(l), the public body failed to establish the disclosure of architectural drawings could reasonably be expected to harm the building’s security, so they must be disclosed. Regarding s. 21(1), there was no evidence of harm that would result from disclosure of the withheld financial information, and the adjudicator directed that it be provided to the applicant. Finally, the adjudicator ordered disclosure of some of the information that had been withheld under s. 22(1) because it was either not personal information or because disclosure would not be an unreasonable invasion of third-party personal privacy.

My personal view is that the approach taken by the Provincial Capital Commission was over-the-top. They incorrectly applied sections of FIPPA in an attempt to limit public access. For heaven’s sake, they even argued that some information had to be withheld because its disclosure could help terrorists attack the CPR Steamship Terminal.

This order will be a good wakeup call for a few other public bodies in the CRD (you know who you are). Congratulations to both the journalist and the media organization for diligently pursuing this.

Proposal to move Emily Carr library to Uptown

The Greater Victoria Public Library is planning to move the Emily Carr branch from its current location to Uptown. I visit this branch on a regular basis with my two year old son. We visit a variety of branches but we live in Saanich and Emily Carr is the closest. We have never had any problems finding this library or finding a parking spot. We can usually park within twenty to thirty feet of the library entrance.

Emily Carr library map

The current location for the Emily Carr branch is great and I see no reason for it to move. It is close to many existing shops and restaurants; these businesses would be harmed if the library did move. The current location is owned by Saanich; there is no mortgage to pay. If the branch moved, the Greater Victoria Library would have to lease the new space from Morguard. The lease rate has not been made public. Also of note is that the Municipality of Saanich has not said what it plans to do with the old Emily Carr location.

Apparently one reason for the proposed move is that the bathrooms are in the basement and therefore inaccessible to some patrons.  The GVPL’s reasoning here is confusing, particularly as they describe the facility as being fully accessible on the Emily Carr branch web page:

Emily Carr

Why can’t the GVPL spend a small amount of money to add bathrooms to the main floor of the current location? The current space has 8600 square feet but the GVPL claims that only 6000 sq. ft. can be used for public space. The new space would have a total of 5575 square feet (this includes non-publc space). This means the GVPL could install two 200 sq. “super bathrooms” on the main floor of the current branch and still come out ahead.

The feedback survey from the GVPL is skewed towards relocation. I do not consider it genuine public engagement at all. For example, one of the questions was, “What other physical features of a library branch are most important to you? Please indicate all that apply.”  I would have clicked “bright, clean modern facility” but I feel like that would have been interpreted as favouring a relocation to Uptown. I think the current library is just fine. To me, it is a “bright clean, modern facility” with “comfortable areas for reading” and “easy to reach book shelves” and “lots of natural light”. Honestly, who designed this survey? It is obviously skewed towards getting results that will favour a move.

For the record, I am not one of those people who thinks Uptown is a monstrosity. I like it a lot and I want it to succeed. Its Aboriginal tile fountain is (in my view) the best piece of public art in the CRD. The development as a whole is far better than the old Town & Country strip mall. That said, Uptown has a lot of unleased space. Morguard needs to lower its lease rates if it is having difficulty attracting businesses. It is not the job of Saanich or the Greater Victoria Public Library to subsidize a struggling commercial development.

This relocation plan does not seem beneficial to taxpayers or library patrons. That said, whether you are for or against the library move, please take a moment to fill out the survey. They are collecting feedback until March 18th. You can also email Saanich council at council@saanich.ca.