Freedom of Information (FOI)

Freedom of Information and
Requests for Access to Records

 
Why do I need to submit a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request?

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Act) provides specific information and privacy rights regarding information that is collected or controlled by public bodies in British Columbia.  The Act promotes two general principles:

  • Freedom of Information – to provide access to records held by public bodies (with limited exceptions); and
  • Protection of Privacy – to protect the privacy of personal information that has been collected, used or disclosed by the RDEK.

Information is routinely available to the public.  Occasionally, a review is required, or a coordinated effort is needed to gather information for release.  A FOI request is required only for records that are not routinely available to the public.

What is the difference between an “information request” and a “request for records (FOI)”?

The Act grants rights to access records, not information.  A FOI request must be for a copy of records in existence at the time of the request.  By contrast, a request for information would be in the form of a question.

For example:

  • “Please provide me with a copy of XYZ Licence” is a request for records.
  • “Why was this licence granted in that way?” is a request for information.

Before you make a FOI request for copies of records, try contacting the departments within the RDEK that may have the information you are seeking.  The Act is not intended to replace existing means of obtaining information.

Some departments release routine information and are authorized by the General Fee Bylaw to charge a fee.  You will be advised whether a FOI request is needed, and department staff may be able to assist you with the wording of your request so that the information can be easily located.

Examples of information that can be routinely released by staff and does not require a FOI request include:

  • answers to questions related to departmental operations;
  • open agendas, open minutes, bylaws; and
  • certain property related information, permits, publications, policies and procedures.

Prior to initiating a FOI request, contact the appropriate department to ask whether the record(s) you are seeking is routinely available. For information about the different RDEK departments visit our website at https://www.rdek.bc.ca/departments/

If you are unsure of what department to connect with, please contact General Information at 250-489-2791 or info@rdek.bc.ca for assistance.

But I don’t know what information I need or the types of records I’m looking for.  I just want to know if there is anything I should be concerned about before I sell or buy property.

Have a conversation with the relevant department staff to determine what information may be available.

The FOI process is driven by the applicant.  It is not intended for staff to provide extensive research in determining the needs of the applicant or the types of records that might be required.  Think of the process as a library card - it allows you access to a book (the “record(s)”), but you have to do the research work necessary for your purposes.

The RDEK only processes requests for records that are under our control or jurisdiction.  For example, requests for Land Title surveys, septic or well water records must be made directly to the appropriate agency.

Click here for further property information and a list of agencies and professionals.

How do I make a formal FOI request?

If the department you contact is unable to provide the information, a FOI request may be required.

1.    Make a Formal FOI Request

All FOI requests must be made in writing and provide sufficient, clear and specific detail to assist staff in locating and retrieving records.  

FOI requests are to be clear, concise and focused in order to reduce processing time and possible fees.

If you are requesting access to another person’s personal information and they wish to provide their consent, you may use one of the following forms.

•    Consent to Disclosure Form
•    Consent to Disclosure Form – Building Plans

Please return your FOI request to the RDEK through one of the following methods:

2.    Review and Acknowledgment
Your request will be reviewed to determine whether the information you are seeking is routinely available, or if further searching, compiling and review is required.
The Act allows a maximum of 30 business days for us to respond to your request, although we will make every effort to respond sooner when possible.

3.    Gathering of Information
Once your request is received, we will contact the appropriate departments to locate and retrieve the records you are seeking.

4.    Review of Records
We will review the records for completeness and privacy concerns.  If there is information on a specific record that we cannot provide in accordance to the Act, we will sever (black out) that information from the record and mark it with the relevant section(s) of the Act to explain why it has been withheld.

5.    Fees
FOI requests are subject to fees as outlined in Schedule A of the Freedom of Information Bylaw.  We will provide you with a fee estimate before we process your request.

A fee estimate provides you with an opportunity to decide whether to proceed with the FOI request, modify the request, request a waiver of the fees, or withdraw the request.  It also ensures that the RDEK does not take on the administrative obligations of processing the request until the applicant has agreed to the charges.

6.    Release of Records
Upon receipt of payment, we prepare all responsive records for release and send them to you by email, mail, or advise you that they are ready for pick up.

How long does the formal FOI process take?

The Act provides that we must respond within 30 business days of receipt of your request.  However, we will make every effort to make the records available to you sooner when possible.

More Questions?
  • Shannon Moskal, Corporate Officer
  • Tina Hlushak, Deputy Corporate Officer

Last edited: Wed, September 09, 2020 - 3:27:22