FOI requestors should be public: mayor

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Petrolia’s mayor thinks the names of people who make costly requests under the Freedom of Information Act should be made public.
John McCharles raised the concern during recent budget discussions.
Councillors questioned the town’s legal expenses. In 2018, town administration budgeted $36,000 for legal expenses. Petrolia has already spent $38,250 in 2017.
The budget covers everything from slip and fall claims to major lawsuits, but staff said this year, most of the cost was due to a Freedom of Information Act request which the town had to use a lawyer. That dispute has been going on for over six months.
McCharles suggested that “it tends to sort of be the same group that costs the money.”
He then questioned why the names of the people involved wouldn’t be public information suggesting that might cut down on frivolous requests.
“We all talk about transparency, transparancy why wouldn’t you make those names public?”
Deputy Clerk Mandi Pearson told council “some of them (FOIA request) are honestly frivolous” and often there are added costs for staff to compile the information requested.
It costs only $5 to make a request for information and the municipality has 30 days to respond.
The Independent has filed three Freedom of Information Act requests including two which ask for documents surrounding the rental of two properties by the town – 4168 Robert St. and 395 Fletcher St.
Meantime, the town has also set a fee for people who want to file a complaint with an integrity commissioner or an closed meeting investigator. It will be $250.
There is no fee for the service in near by Sarnia and many municipalities list their fee on line as $25.

One Response to “FOI requestors should be public: mayor”

  1. Bob Loblaw

    Sounds like a deflection to me. Why has the town paid a lawyer and fight for 6 months for a information request? Sounds fishy, what are they trying to hide?