Nothing free about Freedom of Information…

Agree with them or not, it still rubs me the wrong way to hear the Not Pretty River folks (by the way, bad name for a website; they really shouldn’t centre out the school) will have to pay up $450 for documents from the Town of Collingwood requested under Freedom of Information.

According to an email this morning from the group’s lead rabble-rouser Lorne Kenney, the town is charging the group $4-fity for photocopying and staff time for the 300 pages or so of material that will be handed over to the group (I’ll be interested to know if any of that content will be redacted).

A couple of years back when I was but a lowly blogger and nothing much else (e-media wannabe, shurely!), I was told to submit an FOI request — and pay $5 — in order to obtain the town’s costs in its negotiations with the Admiral Collingwood Place. When I finally got the info (27 days after submitting my request), they followed my request to the letter and only provided the information they had as of the date I made the submission — even though the town received bills in the interim between when my request was made, and when the information was provided to me.

(Councillor Ian Chadwick was told to do the same thing; he’s just in the process of reworking his website, otherwise I would provide a link to his rant…)

Basically, I had to pay in order to find out what the town was doing with my tax money; what really burned me is the mayor commented on his phone-in program on the Peak two months later that anyone was welcome to the information.

So what if we ding a group of people $450? What if it was an individual with limited means: do we deny them the right to public information on the basis of income?

Like I said, this is nothing to do with the position of Lorne & Co.; if it’s information within the public realm, then there shouldn’t be any argument about — or hurdles to — making it open…

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