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.