Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) helps promote good city government by balancing the following principles:
Freedom of Information (FOI)
The public has the right to access government information. Whenever possible, information held by the City of Nelson should be available to the public.
Protection of Privacy (POP)
Individuals have the right to have their personal information protected. The City of Nelson should not improperly collect or disclose personal information.
Are there any exceptions to my rights under the Act?
Yes. If you are requesting records from the City, you will not get access to Council confidences, someone else's personal information, or information that could harm another individual's business interest. You also will not generally get records that could harm bylaw enforcement, the economic and financial interests of the City, other individuals or the public. Further, although you can expect the City to protect the privacy of your personal information, the City has the authority to release your information to others in certain circumstances, such as for law enforcement or to protect someone else's health and safety.
Records that can be requested
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) applies to all records (i.e. all recorded information) under the custody or control of a public body. Under the Act “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 City.
How to make FOI Requests
1. Informal Request via Routine Channels:
Since almost all of the City’s information is available through routine channels, you should always start by making an informal request. To do this, contact the department that you think might have the information you are looking for.
2. Formal FOI Requests:
If the information you are seeking is not available through routine channels, you may make an FOI request for records containing the information. Unlike routine requests, formal FOI requests must be made in writing. You may either complete the City’s FOI Application Form or submit a letter providing the equivalent information to the Deputy Corporate Officer. Your request must provide sufficient detail to assist staff in locating and retrieving the records. If the records you are requesting are available routinely to the public then they will be made available to you without going through an FOI request. However, if the records are covered by the FOI legislation, then the City will respond to your request within 30 business days of the City’s receipt of your 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 legally, certain types of records and information are to be protected and not made available to the public. Some exemptions are mandatory while others are exercised at the discretion of the FOIPP Head based on the relevant circumstances surrounding the request in accordance with the Act.