What information can I request?
How do I make a request?
Is there a fee to process my request?
How will the District respond to my request?
How long does the request process take?
Will I get everything that I ask for?
How is my personal information protected?
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) applies to all records (i.e. all recorded information) that are under the custody or control of a public body. The Act defines records as follows:
“Record” includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, mechanical or other means, but does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records.
It is important to note that the Act covers access to records, and the information contained therein. It is NOT the intention of the Act that staff undertake compiled and summarized research in order to answer specific questions. Applicants are expected to conduct their own research from and interpretation of any records received from the District.
There are two ways to request information from the District of Sicamous:
Informal Request via Routine Channels
Since almost all of the District’s information is available through routine channels, you should always start by making an informal request. To do this, complete an informal request for information form or contact the department that you think might have the information you are looking for.
Formal FOI Requests
If the information you are seeking is not available through routine channels, then you may make an FOI request for records containing the information.
Unlike routine requests, formal FOI requests must be made in writing. Your request must provide sufficient detail to assist staff in locating and retrieving the records.
When you make an informal request for information, the department that has the information may charge you a fee to cover the costs of processing your request. Fees are charged in accordance with our Fees and Charges Bylaw.
Formal FOI Requests
We may charge you fees to cover the cost of processing your FOI request. Section 75 of the Act permits public bodies to charge applicants fees for costs associated with processing requests to access records under the Act. The maximum fees are set out in British Columbia Regulation 155/2012. For example, the following fees apply for non-commercial applicants (i.e. private individuals):
- $7.50 per ¼ hour ($30/hour) after the first 3 hours spent locating, retrieving and producing the requested records
- $7.50 per ¼ hour ($30/hour) to prepare records for disclosure (includes the time spent photocopying and reassembling files)
- $0.25 per page of regular photocopies provided
- Shipping and handling charges (method chosen by applicant)
The Act prohibits public bodies from charging applicants for access to their own personal information. The Act also states that the first three hours spent searching for and retrieving the records is free of charge. If the number of records to be searched appears to be excessive, we will send you a fee estimate before processing your request which will require you to provide us with a deposit.
To help reduce fees, please narrow the scope of your request as much as possible and try to specify a date range.
When you make an informal request, the department you approach will respond to you as quickly as possible. Depending on the kind of information you are requesting, you may be able to get an answer over the phone.
- The Information and Privacy Coordinator reviews your request and may contact you to clarify your request.
- We will contact you officially, letting you know when you can expect to have your request fulfilled.
- We estimate the time and possible fees needed to fulfill your request. If applicable, we will send you a fee estimate. You will be required to pay a 50% deposit of the estimate before we continue with your request. Alternatively, you may choose to revise your request to reduce the time it will take to complete it.
- We search for and gather all the records related to your request.
- We review the records and withhold any information that would be an invasion of privacy or cause harm by one of the means listed in the Act. If a record contains information we cannot provide, we cover that information, and mark it with the relevant section(s) of the Act to explain why it has been withheld.
- We prepare our final response package with your requested information and send it to you.
The Act requires that we respond to your request within 30 business days of our receipt of your request. We will make every effort to make the records available to you sooner, if possible.
If your request is broad in scope, or if a large volume of records respond to your request, we may extend the time limit for responding under Section 10 of the Act for an additional 30 business days. For particularly large and difficult requests, we may apply to the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner for an additional time extension.
The majority of requests are processed within 30 business days of receipt of the request.
Depending on what you ask for, you may not get access to all information contained within the records that respond to your request.
The Act includes several specific exemptions to disclosure, which means that, by law, certain types of records and information is to be protected and not made available to the public. Some exemptions are mandatory while others are exercised at the discretion of the Head (as defined in our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw No.922) based on the relevant circumstances surrounding the request.
For example, reasons for denying access to information held by the District of Sicamous are generally related to the protection of:
- personal privacy
- businesses trade secrets
- solicitor-client privilege
- deliberations of Council and Council Committees that are authorized to be held in the absence of the public (i.e. closed or “in camera” meetings)
- policy advice, staff recommendations or draft regulations not yet made public
- information that may harm a law enforcement matter (this includes bylaw enforcement matters)
- information that may harm the financial interests of the District or other public body
If you do not get access to all information you requested, you will be advised of the reasons and the provision(s) of the Act on which you have been denied full access. If you are not satisfied with how the District responds to your FOI request, you have the right to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia to review the District’s response. The Information and Privacy Commissioner provides independent oversight and enforcement of BC's access and privacy laws.
The Act protects personal privacy by restricting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Please note that personal privacy rights extend only to private individuals; not businesses, societies, corporations, etc.
When an individual makes an FOI request to the District of Sicamous, their personal information is protected and is not made public.
We only collect personal information when we have the clear authority to do so, or when the collection is related directly to and is necessary for an operating program. When we are collecting personal information, we must do so directly from you, unless we have legal authority to collect the information from another source. These rules apply even if the personal information is held by another government body.
Use and Disclosure
The personal information must only be used for the purpose it was collected or for a use consistent with the reason it was collected. We may also use or disclose personal information in other ways, but only if we have legal authority to do so. We have security arrangements to protect personal information from unauthorized use or disclosure.
For example, if you make a bylaw enforcement complaint, we ask for your personal information (name, address, telephone number) in order for us to keep you informed of our handling of your complaint. As a complainant, your personal information is protected and is not made public. The only time that your identity as a complainant would be disclosed to another public body is to comply with Court proceedings.