The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) helps promote good government practices 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 Vernon will be available to the public
Protection of Privacy (POP)
- Individuals have the right to have their personal information protected
- The City of Vernon will not improperly collect or disclose personal information
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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 any records received from the City of Vernon.
There are two ways to request information from the City of Vernon:
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.
If the information you are seeking is not available through routine channels, then you may make a Formal FOI Request for records containing the information.
- Informal Request via Routine Channels
- Formal FOI Request
Your Formal FOI request should be made in writing and provide sufficient detail (see note below) to assist staff in locating and retrieving the records. You should also indicate whether you want to receive copies of the records, or if your want to view the records in person.
To help reduce fees and to minimize taxpayer expense, please narrow the scope of your request as much as possible. Also, you should try to specify a date range as our records date back more than a century.
You may choose to use our FOI Request Form, although it is not required to make a formal request. You may deliver, mail, fax or e-mail your FOI request to:
City of Vernon
3400 30th Street
Vernon, BC V1T 5E6
Phone: 250-545-1361 Fax: 250-550-3571
When you make an informal request for information, we may charge you a fee to cover costs in processing your request.
Formal FOI Requests:
The City of Vernon does not charge fees for access to your own personal information, or for:
- the first three hours spent searching for and retrieving the records
Fees may be charged to cover other charges relating to the cost of processing your FOI request (map copies, for example).
If we are going to charge you any fees, we will send you a fee estimate before processing your request. We may also require you to provide us with a deposit.
The following fees apply for non-commercial applicants (i.e. private individuals):
- $7.50 per 1/4 hour($30/hour) after the first 3 hours spent locating, retrieving and producing the requested records;
- $7.50 per 1/4 hour ($30/hour) to prepare records for disclosure (includes the time spent photocopying and reassembling files)
- $0.25 per page of regular photocopies provided; and
- Shipping and handling charges (method chosen by applicant)
Commercial applicants are charged the actual cost of providing the services listed in section 7 of Regulation 323/93, subject to the restriction set out in section 75(2) of the Act.
When you make an informal request, we 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.
Formal FOI Requests:
The Act includes several specific exemptions to disclosure, which means that, by law, 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 (as defined in Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw No. 4092) based on the relevant circumstances surrounding the request.
For example, reasons for refusing access to information held by the City of Vernon are generally related to the protection of:
- personal privacy;
- business trade secrets or unit pricing;
- solicitor-client privilege;
- deliberations of the Board and Board 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 City of Vernon or other public body.
The Act requires us to withhold information if release would be an invasion of privacy or cause harm by one of the means listed in the Act, such as harming a law enforcement investigation or threatening anyone’s health or safety.
If you do not get access to all information you requested, you will be advised of the reasons for the refusal and the provision(s) of the Act on which the refusal is based. If you are not satisfied with how the City of Vernon responds to your FOI request, you have the right to ask for a review by the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner, an Officer of the legislature who is independent of the government. A decision of the Commissioner is final, subject to certain limited judicial reviews.
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 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 City of Vernon, 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 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:
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 others ways, but only if we have legal authority to do so. We have security arrangements to protect personal information from unauthorized use or disclosure.